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The Ancien Régime and the Revolution (Penguin Classics)
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About the Author
- Grade level : 12 and up
- Paperback : 307 pages
- ISBN-10 : 014144164X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0141441641
- Item Weight : 8.7 ounces
- Dimensions : 7.5 x 5 x 0.9 inches
- Publisher : Penguin Classics (July 29, 2008)
- Reading level : 18 and up
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #82,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The book becomes tedious at points in the story, but is a worthwhile read if one is has a love for history of the western world.
Alexis de Tocqueville is also the author of Democracy in America, a very important book on our developing a new world order
and his wise advice on maintaining our democratic form of government..
De Tocqueville examines what the Revolution did and did not set out to do and the extent to which it was or was not a revolution against religion. He believed that many customs and ideas of the Ancien Régime actually survived the Revolution and that centralization of power was furthered, not impeded, by it.
The author agreed with Burke on the overarching point that gradual reforms of existing institutions are the best way to improve societies, but he did disagree with Burke on some less important issues.
De Tocqueville looks at the issue of class and how the social classes in France eventually became isolated from each other. Some of the other observations he made include the importance of public opinion even under monarchies; the effects of despotism on the altruism of a populace; the supercilious attitude that many government bureaucrats and administrators have toward the populace (something that hasn't changed even today); that rulers who seek to destroy freedom while seeking to preserve its outward form always fail; and the remarkable observation that revolutions sometimes occur not when conditions go from bad to worse, but when conditions are gradually getting better.
Much as the author was able to examine America, he closes with a list of distinct French character traits and contradictions that contributed to the Revolution. This work may be of interest to those who have read Burke's work and want to see how de Tocqueville differs with him or to those who have read Democracy in America and want to plumb deeper into de Tocqueville's oeuvre.
This book is not necessarily long or difficult to understand but it is dense. I believe that it is best read once and then studied in detail.
Translated into easy-to-read prose.
Full of fascinating facts.
Highly recommended to anyone interested in this subject matter.
It is in marked contrast to the subject as typically treated (if at all) in textbooks.
Top reviews from other countries
This book should be read only if your purely interested in historical transistion of France and spirit of revolution