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Fire in the Minds of Men: Origins of the Revolutionary Faith Revised Edition
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About the Author
James H. Billington is currently the Librarian of Congress. Before that, he served as director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He has been a leading figure in American academic exchange programs, and served as past chairman of the Board of Foreign Scholarship, which directs the Fulbright Program. He is author of Mikhailovsky and Russian Populism and The Icon and the Axe: An Interpretive History of Russian Culture.
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Billington provides a comprehensive account of the revolutionary obsession from the 18th until the 20th century. He examines in particular national and socialist revolution and the cast of sometimes bizarre characters, cults and conspiracies that peppered these movements.
Beautifully written, it is a joy to read. Billington treats his subject matter with empathy but is by no means a revolutionist himself.
Gibbon's "Decline aand Fall of the Roman Empire" is still being read today more than three centuries after it was penned. Billington's book will be a must read centuries from now too.