A modern and comprehensive history of the French Revolution, integrating the major advances of recent research, has been much needed. Albert Soboul’s work has established itself as the new standard account of the great social explosion which started in 1789, and eventually transformed the whole political map of Europe.
Beginning with a penetrating diagnosis of the crisis of the Ancien Régime and the sucidal revolt of the French aristocracy against the monarchy, Soboul shows how the summoning of the Estates-General unleashed both a classical bourgeois revolution and an elemental popular uprising in the countryside and towns. The rapid and tumultuous succession of upheavals which shook France over the next decade, from the fall of the Bastille to the founding of the Consulate, are each in turn lucidly distinguished and analysed. The abolitiom of feudal privileges, the overthrow of the monarchy, the impact of foreign intervention and the revolutionary wars, the rise and fall of the Girondins, the Jacobin dictatorship, the Terror, the reaction of Thermidor and the Directory, and Napoleon’s coup d état - all are fully recounted and firmly situated within the broader social and economic processes of the time. Soboul’s own celebrated work on the Parisian sansculottes uniquely qualifies him to explore the popular depths of the Revolution, and the dialectic of masses, cadres and leaders which finally determined the course and fate of the Republic.