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The French Revolution, 1789-1799

Peter McPhee

December 2001

ISBN: 9780199244140

240 pages

In Stock

Price: £25.99



In this reliable and succinct introduction to the French Revolution, Peter McPhee tackles the questions which are central to an understanding of this crucial period of French history. Why was there a revolution in France in 1789? Was France fundamentally changed as a result of it? And what effects did it have on everyday life? As well as providing an accessible interpretation of the events and consequences of the Revolution, it also provides an up-to-date guide to the main historiographical debates.

  • Interprets the main questions in the history of the French Revolution within a chronological framework
  • Introduces students to the central debates in the historiography of the French Revolution
  • Concise and accessible style conveys essential information without excessive detail
  • Emphasises the repercussions of the Revolution on daily life
  • Provides a balanced and unbiased interpretation of the period
  • Peter McPhee is a well-respected historian who has published widely in the field of modern French history

About the Author(s)

Peter McPhee, Professor of History, University of Melbourne

Table of Contents

    1:France in the 1780s
    2:The Crisis of the Old Regime
    3:The Revolution of 1789
    4:The Reconstruction of France, 1789-91
    5:A Second Revolution, 1792
    6:The Revolution in the Balance, 1793
    7:The Terror: revolutionary Defence or Paranoia?
    8:Ending the Revolution, 1795-9
    9:The Significance of the Revolution
    Appendix 1: Chronology
    Appendix 2: The Revolutionary Calendar
    A Guide to Further Reading


Overall, I think [this book] is one of the best short histories of the Revolution to appear in many years. He is particularly successful in integrating specific case examples and quotations from the period into his general narrative and historiographic analysis and in thus conveying the drama and passion of the Revolution, so often passed over in texts of this kind. It also provides an excellent corrective to many recent "revisionist" texts, reasserting the importance of social dynamics before and during the Revolution and eshewing simplistic explanations of the Terror based solely on ideology or internal politics. Finally, I am impressed by his effective integration of a great deal of new scholarship published during the last decade, notably in his treatment of rural history and the experience of women during the Revolution. In sum, I would strongly recommend the book, and I look forward to trying it out in my own courses. - Timothy Tackett, University of California

Peter McPhee's history of the French Revolution is a real tour de force. More successfully than any other general history of the period, it combines an admirably clear narrative of this complex decade with an intelligent survey and analysis of other historians' perspectives. Beside them, McPhee sets out his own understandings of the Revolution sensibly and undogmatically so that readers can judge their merits. Beyond these strengths, the book is enriched by illuminating discussions of the effects of the Revolution on everyday lives of women and men and by a refreshing attention to rural France - the home of the great majority of French people at the time. Written in a lively and engaging way, this book cannot but draw readers more deeply into one of the most fascinating periods in world history. - Roderick Phillips, Carleton University

With an easy style and a clear purpose, Professor Peter McPhee pilots students past key questions of the origin and course, meaning and significance of the French Revolution. Touching most debates in the historiography, McPhee's history still offers a sound narrative of revolutionary events, egos and enactments, always in chapters of manageable length, always with an eye to evidence that's first-hand, fascinating and fresh. Scores of students and teachers will owe him a debt of thanks. - Adrian Jones, La Trobe University

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