2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2000
Having never read Berce's full two-volume edition of this work (not knowing French is a bit of an impediment here), I can't comment on how this edition compares to the full work, except to say that I can't imagine how he could get much more exhaustive in his coverage. If there is any aspect of seventeenth-century peasant rebellion Berce left out, I can't imagine what it would be. This is an extremly well-researched work, and Berce takes essentially two major rebellions and uses them to reconstruct the character, motivations and repercussions of peasant revolts in general, casting them as what were basically reactionary movements of community solidarity.
The problem with this book is that it really bogs down into minute detail at times, and the argument could have been effectively made without so much. Berce continually repeats the same themes over and over. Much of this is, of course, because, as his argument holds, these were common themes of the revolts, but after a while it just becomes redundant.
This is not to take away from his scholarship in any way, though. I was a bit disappointed in the lack of any susbstantial bibliography, however, and VERY limited footnoting. There is no doubt to his research, it just would have been nice to be pointed toward some of it.
The translation is pretty readable. Since I don't read French, I don't know how much is Berce and how much is Whitmore, but either way, the book rarely bogs into scholarly impenetrability, which is nice in a sizeable work of history, that it's able to sustain some level of interest.
Anyway, aside from the pretty intense redundancy at times, this is a quality piece of historical research.