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The Old Regime and the Revolution, Volume II: Notes on the French…
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0226805336, Hardcover)One is sorely tempted to allow the marvelously lucid prose in Alan S. Kahan's new translation of Alexis de Tocqueville's study of the French Revolution speak for itself: "In 1789 the French made the greatest effort ever undertaken by any people to disassociate themselves from their past, and to put an abyss between what they had been and what they wished to become." But as Tocqueville found out when--with the hindsight of half a century--he examined the historical records, the revolution was really not so radical a turn of events. "True, it took the world by surprise, and yet it was the result of a very long process, the sudden and violent climax of a task to which ten generations had contributed." Thus the first volume of The Old Regime and the Revolution concerns itself with the state of affairs before 1798, getting beyond the "confused and often mistaken notions" of his contemporaries "about the manner in which business was conducted, the real practices of institutions ... the real basis of ideas and mores." Although many historians have taken on the French Revolution in the years since Tocqueville's analysis was first published, few have addressed the subject with as effective a combination of insight and clarity. --Ron Hogan
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