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109 of 111 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Narrative
Christopher Hibbert's fine narrative about the French Revolution is an excellent way for the general reader to learn the essentials of the keystone event of modern European history. But for the French Revolution there would have been no Napoleon. But for the French Revolution there probably would never have been a Russian Revolution. But those are not the themes...
Published on May 20, 2000 by Paul J. Rask

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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written description of some of the days.
Picked up this book prior to a trip to Paris to educate myself about the French revolution. I'm an american after all, how would I be expected to know anything about foreign history.

I chose the book over others because of its relatively short length and previous reviews that praised its accessible prose. The jacket also promised that it would teach me about...
Published on June 18, 2005 by Ted Weller


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109 of 111 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Narrative, May 20, 2000
This review is from: The Days of the French Revolution (Paperback)
Christopher Hibbert's fine narrative about the French Revolution is an excellent way for the general reader to learn the essentials of the keystone event of modern European history. But for the French Revolution there would have been no Napoleon. But for the French Revolution there probably would never have been a Russian Revolution. But those are not the themes which play in the background of Mr. Hibbert's most-readable history. He lays out the panorama of the Days of the French Revolution in such such a way that one who wishes to know more about that great event can read about it -- cover-to-cover and then put this book down with satisfaction. At last the general reader will fully understand what is meant by "Thermidor", will sympathize with the unfortunate Louis XVI and come away with a new appreciation of his beautiful and misunderstood wife, Marie Antoinette.
The complicated personality of the tragic Robespierre enters the drama at the time appointed by history and Mr. Hibbert gives this austere, no-nonsense rascal his proper place at center stage. There is enough of a biography of him to round him out so that the reader can reach some conclusions as to how the Days of Terror came about under Robespierre's auspices.
The days of the French Revolution teemed with a multitude of monumental historical events crammed into a mere few years. Royalty was executed, wars were fought, governments fell, freedoms simmered, flourished and faded; all was turmoil. It is a wonder in this avalanche of world-shaking events how any writer could manage to sort them out and play them before the reader's eyes so engrossingly. But Mr. Hibbert does it and he does it well in this book that I can highly recommend.
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75 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1790s Paris, You Are There, March 22, 2001
This review is from: The Days of the French Revolution (Paperback)
This is a great book to learn about the French Revolution. It's full of interesting characters and packed with nonstop action. The author doesn't analyze or judge from the vantage point of an armchair 200 years later. If you want to know what sort of people Marie Antoinette, Robespierre, Marat, Danton, and other names from history were, you'll hear it from their friends, enemies, relatives, neighbors, servants and clients. You get the feel for what it was like to be a lawyer, butcher, restaurateur, farmer, journalist in 18th-century France. You'll find out what it was really like to be imprisoned in the Bastille, to be pounding on your husband's locked door while a mob was trying to break your bedroom door down, to get up on a table and address a a riotous crowd for the first time in your life, and even what it felt, looked and sounded like to be guillotined. The author doesn't intrude on the story at all; he lets the facts speak for themselves. He doesn't moralize, you reach your own conclusions about what happens when mob rule takes over, when violence generates more violence, and the rules of law and order are abandoned. This is one of the best written history books I've read in a long time, as absorbing as any novel. I'd have hated to miss it and it's a great way to learn.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Place to Start, April 23, 2002
By 
John C. Bradley, Jr. (Columbia, South Carolina United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Days of the French Revolution (Paperback)
I read this book several years after reading Simon Schama's "Citizens," which is one of my favorite all time books. This book is much more of an overview of the French Revolution than Schama's book and is probabably a better place to start. While "Citizens" does more to place the French Revolution in the context of its time, Hibbert's book is more of a traditional narrative history. Still, its well written and extremely entertaining (like most of Hibbert's books) and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to get a good overview of the people and events of the French Revolution.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Place to Start, January 22, 2006
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This review is from: The Days of the French Revolution (Paperback)
I wanted to read about the French Revolution, and began with "Citizens," by Simon Schama. It is a fine book, but I got bogged down in the details, and was losing the essence of the events. 300 pages in, and still going through the details of the economic environment, I put down "Citizens" and picked up Hibbert's book. It was beautifully written, and quite consistent with the highly-academic "Citizens." But, frankly, Hibbert was much more enjoyable to read.

A note to those who are not adverse to detailed history: Schama has many favorable reviews on this site, and well-deserved. But you might want to start with Hibbert, then go to Schama, with LeFebvre's slim work as a side read.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Depends on what you are looking for..., August 20, 2010
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This review is from: The Days of the French Revolution (Paperback)
I will start with what this book does well. Christopher Hibbert is an excellent writer, and his reliance on first hand accounts allows him to create a very vivid and exciting narrative. If you are already relatively familiar with the events of the French Revolution and are simply looking for a good read then this is easily a five star book.

There are some drawbacks to Hibbert's book, however, for those who are not already familiar with the French Revolution and who are looking for a basic introduction.

First, as the title suggests, Hibbert's narrative revolves around certain important days of the French Revolution, including (but not limited to) the storming of the Bastille, the flight of the King, the September prison massacres, the terror, the arrest and execution of Robespierre, and the assumption of power by Napoleon. These episodes are told in great detail but Hibbert does not provide a unified narrative connecting these various episodes.

Second, Hibbert focuses almost entirely on days of violence. Hibbert does not pay much attention to debates taking place in the Conventions or assemblies, to the ideas that animated the revolutionaries, to the economic or social realities of the time, or to the social and political reforms enacted. Instead his narrative focuses, in often brutal and gory detail, on the atrocities committed during the Revolution. You get the feeling that Hibbert does not have much sympathy with the revolutionaries. While this is certainly one side of the revolution, and an important one, it is not the only side. It also gets a bit repetitive reading over and over about out of control mobs cutting people's heads off and displaying them on pikes. The violence of the revolution was real and should not be ignored but it would be nice to get a break in the narrative (and a break from the gore) every once in awhile and read about some of the ideas being discussed, or some of the political reforms being enacted.

Third, Hibbert does not really attempt to explain the various groups that were important in the revolution (the Girondins, Jacobins, sans-coulottes, the Commune, etc.) the ideas that they stood for, or their powers and functions. The most he provides is a brief summary of each group in an appendix which ultimately leaves a lot to be desired. A reader who is interested in the differences that separated the Girondins from the Jacobins, for example, will not get much help from Hibbert.

For these reasons I would say that The Days of the French Revolution is slightly less than ideal as an introduction to the French Revolution. The reader new to the French Revolution will get a basic idea of some of the major events, as well as some of the major players, of the French Revolution, but will not get much in terms of genuine understanding. So as an introduction I would give this book three stars.

Since this book is a five star book for those already familiar with the French Revolution, and a three star book for those new to the French Revolution, I have made my overall review for the book equal to four stars.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blood, intrigue and death- and it all really happened., March 3, 2001
By 
Karl Dettmer (Staten Island, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Days of the French Revolution (Paperback)
If you've never read a book on the French Revolution start with this one. Hibbert has an easy going non "history class" style of writing that makes this book a joy. You really get to know the players and see how things get out of hand for everyone. From the weak doomed King to the firey Danton who is set up to die by Robspierre who in less than two months follows Danotn to the guilitine. There is more plotting, murder, backstabbing and mayhem in this book than in any modern day thriller. And it all really happened. The pages turn themselves.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Wish I Paid Attention In High School, June 14, 2001
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This review is from: The Days of the French Revolution (Paperback)
It's been over thirty years since I was in high school, and I failed to pay attention in the French History classes. In anticipation of an upcoming Paris vacation, I thought I would brush up on my history, but was reluctant to do so, as my experience with history books indicated that few things are as dry. Mr. Hibbert was a startling exception; he tells a stirring story that was hard to put down. My trip to Paris will be ever so much more meaningful. If you have any interest whatsoever in the French Revoulution, this is the place to start. If you need a basic understanding, then this is the book to turn to.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written description of some of the days., June 18, 2005
This review is from: The Days of the French Revolution (Paperback)
Picked up this book prior to a trip to Paris to educate myself about the French revolution. I'm an american after all, how would I be expected to know anything about foreign history.

I chose the book over others because of its relatively short length and previous reviews that praised its accessible prose. The jacket also promised that it would teach me about Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI, Napoleon, the Bastille etc. so I figured I would kill several birds at once.

Take the books title literally: its ten main chapters basically describe 10 important days (ok a few on either side) during the french revolution. The leaps from one these days to the next left some large holes. Perhaps a basic understanding of the events and characters was assumed (I didn't have it) and this was meant to provide in depth coverage of those days. This is not to say that I did not enjoy the book. The description of the days were well written and accessible to a non-historian. Some of it, such as descriptions of "the days of terror" was downright page turning. I could not stop reading though I tried. The only other complaint was that, despite the jacket's promise, I learned little about Napoleon.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I Read This Book Because I Knew Nothing About The French Revolution, September 13, 2005
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This review is from: The Days of the French Revolution (Paperback)
This was a good introduction to the French Revolution. The only bad thing i have to say about the book is that sometimes the author seems to think everyone knows the French language (with quotes in french that are rarely translated,) but that happens infrequently enough that the reader doesn't miss out on anything. I certainly would recommend it to anyone with a curiosity about the chain of events that lead the citizens of France into total madness.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good intro to the French Revolution, December 23, 2000
By 
Thomas Holt (Krakow, Poland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Days of the French Revolution (Paperback)
Christopher Hibbert's book is an excellent introduction to the French Revolution. He relates the important events and personalities without the pedantic stuffiness of an academic history. With very readable prose and a reasonable length (less than 400 pages), this book is ideal for the average person (read non-history major) who wants to learn about one of the most important events in recent centuries.
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The Days of the French Revolution
The Days of the French Revolution by Christopher Hibbert (Paperback - June 23, 1999)
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