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The Old Regime and the French Revolution Paperback – October 1, 1955


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The Old Regime and the French Revolution + Politics, Culture, and Class in the French Revolution: With a New Preface, 20th Anniversary Edition (Studies on the History of Society and Culture, No. 1)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (October 1, 1955)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385092601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385092609
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #392,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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For these reasons, this book is of interest to anyone who wants to know how the study of history is done.
crafterlady
This provides the author with unique insights and information that enabled him to come up with interesting arguments, claims and conclusions.
Elijah Chingosho
It is a great historical record and wonderful example of mid 19th century historiography sociology and political thought.
Robert E. Murena Jr.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 64 people found the following review helpful By M. B. Alcat on April 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
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 common 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.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By denverd0n on October 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
I give this book four stars. It is a fascinating investigation into the political and cultural environment in France that led up to the revolution.

But be forewarned! This book is NOT a history of the revolution. The author makes that very clear right at the beginning, but I think it bears emphasizing. If you aren't already pretty familiar with the history of the revolution you may have trouble at times following what this book is talking about.

Overall, this book is well worth the cover price for anyone with an interest in the French revolution.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By stavrogin on May 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
Tocqueville was one of the first if not the first sociologist historians. He shows how the centralizing tendencies were actually started under the monarchy and continued under the Revolution. This book will give a view of someone whose life was spent with the results of what he was writing about. His memoires cover the later Revolution of 1848. Among other things he talks of how taxes that were seen as oppressive under the monarchy were accepted without a whimper under more "popular" government. This is a must for those interested in this topic.
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Format: Paperback
"What was the true aim of the Revolution? What was its specific character? Why did it take place and what exactly did it achieve?" As Tocqueville addresses these questions herein (without, I should add, detailing the specific events of the actual Revolution---this treatise is not a history of that event) he makes these points: "The aim of the Revolution was not, as once was thought, to destroy the authority of the Church and religious faith in general." (Although Tocqueville does admit that "Christianity was attacked with almost frenzied violence," but he points out that "there was no question of replacing it with another religion," suggesting that religion got caught in the maelstrom against traditional bodies; and that the discrediting of religion which was becoming prevalent during the latter half of the 18th century "had a preponderant influence on the course of the French Revolution," as the people having lost faith in GOD became more inclined to start believing in anything---as Émile Cammaerts has put it; though often mis-attributed to G.K. Chesterton.) "Appearances notwithstanding," according to Tocqueville, the Revolution "was essentially a movement for political and social reform and, as such, did not aim at creating a state of permanent disorder in the conduct of public affairs or (as one of its opponents bitterly remarked) at 'methodizing anarchy.'

On the contrary, it sought to increase the power and jurisdiction of the central authority. (Nor was it intended, as some have thought, to change the whole nature of our traditional civilization, to arrest its progress, or even to make any vital change in the principles basic to the structure of society in the Western world.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Carlos Almendarez on November 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
The French Revolution remains one of the crucial events of modern European and world history. The revolution stands as an event that hailed the fall of feudalism and marked the triumph of the common person over the aristocracy. In truth, reality is much more complex than that presented in a common textbook. The French revolution has been an object of praise as much as it has been the focus of heated debate. While the old regime may have fallen "in a night", the revolution was a product of a gradual resentment which went far beyond an outburst of revolutionary fervor. In The Old Regime and the French Revolution Alexis de Tocqueville allows us a definitive glimpse at the circumstances that lead to revolt. In Tocqueville's mind there was never an event in which "stemming from factors so far back in the past, (was) so inevitable yet (so) completely unforeseen." In this less read work, he takes on the origins of the French Revolution and the peculiar French form of democracy it brought, in stark contrast to his portrayal in Democracy in America. The Old Regime and the French Revolution is deserving of its status as a classic for the remarkable insight it provides. While Tocqueville's work is a classic, it draws upon the work and thought of other scholars and it is revisionist in the way it changes the way the French revolution is discussed. Along with more widely accepted views on the revolution, which is important in marking it a classic) Tocqueville describes history in a way that allows the reader to place the revolution in a global perspective, while dissecting it enough to understand its intricacies.
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