What happened in the Revolution?

Was reform possible without violent revolution?

Where did the revolution go wrong?

Why did the revolution end in dictatorship?

How did one general end up with all the power of the revolution?

The Coup of 1799.


Remember that we have this great one-volume, paperback, history of France that we used last year; it is still just as useful this year. If you did not do "History of France" and did not buy this book, we probably have copies left over from last year. Check our bookstore.


Alistair Horne,

La Belle France,

Vintage paperbacks,

ISBN 1400034876


"Fascinating. . . . Engaging. . . . Filled with 'hot-blooded' kings, royal mistressesÉand tales of cruelty, treachery and even, occasionally, heart-warming loyalty."

–San Francisco Chronicle

"[Horne] is a virtuoso of the character sketch and the illuminating vignette. . . . La Belle France, with its refreshingly subjective style, possesses more treasures than a whole wall full of textbooks."

–The Wall Street Journal

"A breathtaking tour of French history, from its earliest kings through the Mitterrand government. . . . There are few countries with a more fascinating history than France."

–The Seattle Times

"A useful and charming introduction to a nation that has oh-so-definitely helped make the modern world what it is. . . . Horne does a service in helping the reader navigate the complexities of French history."

–Los Angeles Times



Gordon Wright,

France in Modern Times, Fifth edition,

Norton paperback,

ISBN 9780393967050

This Amazon review is for: France in Modern Times (Fifth Edition) (Paperback) "Gordon Wright's "France In Modern Times" is an all-encompassing book about French history from the start of the 1789 Revolution to contemporary times. This book has been required reading in all of my French history classes and with good reason: it clearly defines the main themes of French history in language that everyone can understand. In other words, one does not have to be a professional historian or a graduate student like myself in order to understand the points that Wright is highlighting. Furthermore, Wright gives an outstanding bibliography that enables one to continue their research on the various topics that he discusses within the book. If you are looking for one book on modern French history, this is the one that you should buy!"

About the Author: Gordon Wright was William H. Bonsall Professor of History Emeritus at Stanford University. He was a past president of both the American Historical Association and the Society for French Historical Studies, and was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His many other books include Raymond Poincare and the French Presidency; Rurual Revolution in France; The Ordeal of Total War: 1939-1945; and Between the Guillotine and Liberty: Two Centuries of the Crime Problem in France.


Alexis de Tocqueville ,

The Old Regime and the French Revolution,

Anchor; First Thus edition (October 1, 1955),

ISBN 0385092601

About the Author:

From Wikipedia: Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville (born July 29, 1805, Paris, died April 16, 1859, Cannes) was a French political thinker and historian best known for his Democracy in America (appearing in two volumes: 1835 and 1840) and The Old Regime and the Revolution(1856). In both of these works, he explored the effects of the rising equality of social conditions on the individual and the state in western societies. Democracy in America (1835), his major work, published after his travels in the United States, is today considered an early work of sociology and political science. An eminent representative of the classical liberal political tradition, Tocqueville was an active participant in French politics, first under the July monarchy (1830–1848) and then during the Second Republic (1849–1851) which succeeded the February 1848 Revolution. He retired from political life after Louis Napoléon Bonaparte's 2 December 1851 coup, and thereafter began work on The Old Regime and the Revolution, Volume I.

Amazon Reviews:

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) wrote many books, but his best-known one is probably "Democracy in America". Despite that, reading "The Old Regime and the Revolution" (1856) is essential in order to understand how much Tocqueville contributed to an accurate analysis of the present and past of his society, and to Political Science.

Why is "The Old Regime and the Revolution" a classic?. Why do teachers keep recommending it to their students?. In my opinion, the answer to both those questions is that this book is an example of the kind of work a political scientist is capable of producing, if inclined to do so. Here, Tocqueville doesn't pay attention to the conventionally accepted truth, but looks beyond it, in order to form his own opinion. And when the result of that process is shocking, he doesn't back down bounded by conventions: he simply states his conclusions.

In "The Old Regime and the Revolution" Alexis de Tocqueville does what at his time was considered more or less unthinkable: to put into question the revolutionary character of...the French Revolution. He said that the only way to understand what happened in 1789 was to study the previous social processes, and to find what they have in com Thurs. with what came about later. This change of perspective was radical, but effective. It didn't presuppose anything, and so it helped the author to arrive to a seemingly strange conclusion: that the French Revolution had not only continued with the social processes that were taking place in France, but accentuated them. For example, the governmental centralization was much worse after 1789. In a way, then, the French Revolution only carried forward with what the Old Regime had already started.

On the whole, I recommend this book mainly to those interested in French History and Political Science. It isn't overly easy to read, but you will realize that it is full of interesting information, and permeated by a painstakingly careful analysis regarding social processes that is remarkable. In my opinion, "The Old Regime and the Revolution" is a book that you won't regret buying :)