Cover: Making Democracy in the French Revolution, from Harvard University PressCover: Making Democracy in the French Revolution in HARDCOVER

Harvard Historical Studies 140

Making Democracy in the French Revolution

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Product Details


$92.00 • £73.95 • €83.00

ISBN 9780674006249

Publication Date: 10/16/2001


336 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

Harvard Historical Studies


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After noting that the French Revolution is no longer an inspiration, Livesey…assumes the imposing task of reassessing the revolution to demonstrate that it continues to be relevant for an understanding of modern politics and society. He believes that the revolution created the European model of democracy that established values different from those found in Anglo-American liberal democracy… Livesey develops several case studies focusing on economic, educational, and cultural issues. His discussion of the movement for the breakup of communal land, partage…is especially fascinating. He creatively utilizes archival sources about relatively mundane matters, and exhibits a mastery over a wide range of pertinent secondary literature… Livesey has produced a distinguished intellectual history.—T. M. Keefe, Choice

This important book promises to be a landmark in the history of its field. James Livesey’s thoughtful claim is that terroristic Jacobinism was not—as has often been assumed—the procrustean mold of French Republicanism. He shows that neo-Jacobin thinking during the Directory in 1795–1799 was a sophisticated and wide-ranging effort to rethink Republican theory and to create a new ‘language of democracy.’ This is a striking work that rewrites the history of French Revolutionary politics and locates this period in a frame of North Atlantic thinking that ranges from Scotland and France to Ireland and the New World.—Patrice Higonnet, Harvard University, author of Goodness beyond Virtue

An important and timely book. There has been a stirring among historians of the Revolution to rethink the 1794–1799 period, but James Livesey is the first to examine in any depth its contribution to the making of ‘modern’ democracy. It will be controversial because it significantly advances our knowledge and insight in areas where others failed to tread. What more could we ask?—Christopher H. Johnson, Wayne State University

A singularly original study of the French Revolution’s ultimately failed project to imagine, articulate, and build a republican democracy. James Livesey obliterates numerous conventional borders and categories in writing about the Revolution. There is much to learn here about the history of ideas, symbolic representations, government debates and policies, and partisan politics. This is a bold and free-ranging work, warranting the oft-abused term ‘brilliant.’—Isser Woloch, Columbia University

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