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The Oxford History of the French Revolution Paperback – August 28, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0199252985 ISBN-10: 019925298X Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2 edition (August 28, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019925298X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199252985
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 1.4 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #118,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Traditional, scholarly, narrative history...a clear and balanced picture of the origins of the Revolution."--The New York Times Book Review


"A fair, and remarkably complete, account of both the Revolution itself and the years that preceded it...a book that sets itself to cover an immense amount of ground and ends with a clear and well-balanced final chapter in which he outlines the many gains, and the often heavy cost, of the revolutionary years ...thorough and scholarly appraisal of French cultural values."--New York Newsday


Review from previous edition... "An outstanding model of clarity and informed scholarship."--Simon Schama, New Republic


"Doyle's book, in its readability, its clarity and its balance, is certainly the best of the general studies of the Revolution that have recently appeared; it will appeal both to the general reader and to the historian. And it deals with the subject, rather than with those who have already written about it."--Richard Griffiths, Times Higher Educational Supplement (UK)


"A work of breath-taking range which deserves to reach a wide popular market. It is the fullest history to appear of the Revolutionary era, of the events preceding it and of its impact on a wider world. Masterfully written."--The Observer (UK)


About the Author

William Doyle is Professor of History at the University of Bristol and the author of Origins of the French Revolution, Old Regime France 1648-1788, and The French Revolution: A Very Short Introduction.

Customer Reviews

Those who wish to get a comprehensive study of the French Revolution should enjoy reading this book.
Elijah Chingosho
In a spare 425 pages Doyle manages to encompass formidable amounts of material into tightly constructed paragraphs each worth a whole chapter unto themselves.
J. Stanforth
Second, he is, among historians of modern France really one of the best and it shows in his writing, research and overall presentation.
John Henry

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
The French Revolution is one of the most important events in modern history, went on for the better part of a decade, involved a large number of significant personages, has complex political, social, economic, and ideological dimensions, has generated a huge literature, and interpretation has been controversial often. This list gives an idea of the challenges involved in producing a good one volume overview. Despite these obstacles, William Doyle succeeds with a lucid and enjoyable book that seems not to neglect any important areas and is generally evenhanded in dealing with controversial issues.

Doyle presents the Revolution as a highly contingent event precipitated by the fiscal collapse of the French Monarchy, exacerbated by recent history of economic difficulties due to irregular and often poor harvests in France in the decade prior to the Revolution. Doyle is very good also on the long term trends - the increasing size of the bourgeosie, the rising literacy and importance of public opinion, the Enlightenment influenced disillusion with the sometimes arbitrary nature of traditional government - that set the stage for the Revolution and had a large effect on its outcomes. Still, Doyle's emphasis is on the basis narrative and he does very well in telling the story of the Revolution without either getting too bogged down in details or sliding over important issues. I recommend, however, that the first half of this book be read in conjunction with Doyle's concise (about 200 pages in a paperback edition) book on the Origins of the French Revolution. There is some redundancy in the narrative when reading both books but the Origins book stresses the underlying structural features in a complementary manner.
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61 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Greg on February 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
William Doyle's Oxford History of the French Revolution is a scholar's history. If anyone is looking for a single volume history of the French Revolution, this one has everything. Doyle exhaustively chronicles the the fate of France's social classes, the economic impact of the Revolution, the impact of near constant warfare, various political experiments, etc. There is virtually no aspect of the French Revolution that is left untouched.

I call this "the book that wouldn't die" because it took me almost a year to complete it. I would read, then along the way, I would find something more interesting, and consume that instead. Then I would try reading it again, and the process would repeat itself...

Doyle's history is exhaustive, scholarly, and a labor to read. It lacks the anecdotes and personal accounts that make history interesting and fun. If you need to complete a term paper, then this is the book for you. If you want entertainment (even a little bit) then you better look elsewhere.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Elijah Chingosho on November 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
"The Oxford History of the French Revolution", by William Doyle is among the best books that I have read on the French Revolution. It is comprehensive (some would say it is dense) and covers in about 420 pages all the most important events of the Revolution. The author tells the chilling story of the French Revolution, stressing the roles of the leading characters that shaped events during this period. Among these people were Robespierre, Murat, Danton, King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette, Napoleon Bonaparte and others as well as the external and internal forces that were attempting to crash the Revolution.

The book gives a grim account of the complete and utter chaos of the time, including the dreadful description of how things went out of hand, the reign of terror, senseless executions including the beheading of the King and Queen of France. The shocking mistakes, for example with respect to the Catholic Church, and the attempt to establish a State sponsored church are highlighted. One gets the feel of the impact of mob rule and what happens in the absence of the rule of law.

William Doyle meticulously researched the book resulting in a minefield of information that students of the French Revolution will find useful and important. The book is full of non-stop action.

This is a well written book that is interesting to read. Those who wish to get a comprehensive study of the French Revolution should enjoy reading this book. However, the book is too long for someone without previous knowledge of the French Revolution.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Holff on March 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
Professor Doyle captures the intricacies of France leading to the French Revolution. His piece can be somewhat dense in parts which further detracts from the subject when mixed with the several grammatical and spelling errors contained within. While the style and format could be improved, the book is filled with useful information. Worth the read if you can get past the mildly annoying inaccuracies.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Austin21 on December 3, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My understanding of the French revolution prior to reading this book was pretty dismal. I knew the relative dates, the location, and some vague notions of "fraternity" and democracy, and Marie Antoinette, and the guillotine. However, I've been reading some 19th century novels that were hard to grasp without a decent understanding of the French revolution. This book is clear, and extremely well-written. It provides enough detail to understand more than a wikipedia article, but in general not so much that the reading is too dense. It was easy to understand without any prior knowledge. However, this is definitely a history, not a novel-like narrative, so it is denser than just casual reading would allow.
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