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1848: Year of Revolution Paperback – October 19, 2010
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A fully nuanced portrait of a tumultuous year.”
New York Times
A lively, panoramic new history ... a good yarn, with a keen eye for ground-level details.”
Absorbing ... anyone wishing a vivid account of a crucial period in European history can spend many hours engrossed in this book.”
Top Customer Reviews
The subject matter for 1848 is wide ranging and complex in the extreme but Mike Rapport gives us a highly readable, cohesive narrative that bristles with all the hopes and disappointments of the time.
We are given cameo appearances of some of the main personalities involved: Alexander Herzen, Karl Marx, Kossuth, Mazzini, Garibaldi, Bismarck and Napolean III, who has all the odiousness of a modern day politicain; comfortably voted into power, the author makes a fine point in reminding us of his act of perjury. There are others of course, all contributing to this lively narrative.
Despite pre-1848 social unrest and revolutionary tremors, 1848 was a phenomenon in itself where a population explosion coupled with food shortages impelled the peasantry and working class to merge spontaneously with a liberal middle class, whose agenda was directed at a broadening of the constitution and male suffrage, and freedom of the press and opinion within a congenial atmosphere for reform. This drag net of unrest cut across many social groups where the working class were just one segment. Interestingly, Karl Marx appeared intransigent even then, attempting to radicalise this surge by insisting on a class war of workers against the status quo and almost ignoring or holding in contempt the diversity of the groups involved.Read more ›
Due to its ubiquitious nature, a major event like 1848 poses special problems for any historian wishing to provide an account for the general public. Mike Rapport rises admirably to the task, however. His new book is a concise, readable summarization of the events of that fateful year, from the glorious spring and summer that raised such high hopes for the cause of revolution and reform, to the gathering of the counter-revolutionary forces that slowly crushed resistance everywhere in the grim days of autumn.
Rapport gives a good general view of the factors that led to revolution in 1848. At that point, Europe had been held in check for over 30 years by repressive, reactionary regimes,all cobbled together by von Metternich at the Treaty of Berlin of 1815 in a careful balance of power enforced by the great powers: Great Britain, Russia, Prussia, France, and Austria. Despite the old's order's best efforts, long repressed grievances and issues came to a boil in 1848. These varied from peasants seeking an end to serfdom and feudal duties, to liberals who wanted sensible reform, to radicals who wanted a republic instead of a monarch, to (very importantly)nationalists who wanted their own country. For various reasons, reactionary pigheadedness large among them, the old order either could not or would not address these issues.
Rapport succinctly tells how these factors led to insurrection.Read more ›
That means, in the end, that I don't feel like I learned much.
I consider this a great failure on the part of a book that seems dedicated to providing a basic summary of the events of 1848 to an (albeit educated) popular audience.
The narrative suffered greatly in approaching the pan-European revolutions chronologically, rather than by geographical area. By jumping to a different country every 20 pages--and therefore entirely different circumstances, with different key players and problems to overcome--facts get muddled if you aren't already familiar with them. Blame me for not knowing much about Mazzini before coming to this book (I am again assuming this is for an educated popular audience), but when I haven't been reading about him for 70 pages and then he suddenly makes another appearance I don't much remember who he is. Mazzini? What? Manin? Hm? I don't know.
Rapport also packs his sentences with numerous pieces of vital information, a trait of academic writing but fatal in narrative history. Each sentence carries an average of three different points, it seems, which makes the going slow and difficult.
Turning to a random page: "His [Jelacic's] dizzying rise began in the summer when Batthyany, well aware of Hungary's shortage of munititions, ordered him to buy ammunition from abroad and to learn how percussion caps were made--a skill which, ironically, he duly studied at the imperial fireworks factory in Wiener-Neustadt" (p. 313).
Let's play a game.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read this book as the Arab Spring was starting. So many parallels. A very good read in our age of instability and change.Published 6 months ago by Vinton
This book needs maps. It is full of references to cities and rivers, which may appear on modern maps, and borders and principalities that might not. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Alice C. Robbins
A very thorough history of the events of 1848. The style of writing, though, is a bit of a slough.Published 22 months ago by R.E.S.
"1848: Year of Revolution" by Michael Rapport tells the story of a turbulent era in European history, and does not focus solely on England and France like so many history books... Read morePublished on August 18, 2014 by K. Kennedy
I like the style of this book. It keeps me interested. Informative, thought-provoking and not too much historian jargon. Word to know going in: "intransigence."Published on April 8, 2014 by William Dearey
A must read for upper level Political Science majors. Giving insight into the revolutions that pulled th power out of the hands of the monarchy and placed it in the hands of the... Read morePublished on February 18, 2014 by eric hall
all around Europe, the winds of change crushed with gobernements, the old sistems of power claqsses are falling, in differents ways but all of them very inetresting, because are... Read morePublished on May 17, 2013 by old fashion guy