By William Doyle
Massacres were nothing new to the late eighteenth-century world, but the prospect of a government systematically executing its opponents by the cartload for months on end presented Europe with a new and unimaginable horror. The Reign of Terror and the French Revolution as a whole transformed the meaning of political change and history itself. Written by a leading historian, this authoritative and comprehensive history draws on a wealth of new research in order to reassess the greatest of all revolutions. Beginning with the accession of Louis XVI in 1774, William Doyle traces the history of France through revolution, terror, and counter-terror, to the triumph of Napoleon in 1802, along the way analyzing the impact of these events in France upon the rest of Europe. He explores how a movement which began with optimism and general enthusiasm soon became a tragedy, not only for the ruling orders, but for millions of ordinary people all over Europe. They were the ones who paid the price for the destruction of the old political order and the struggle to establish a new one, based on liberty and revolution, in the face of widespread indifference and hostility. Highly readable and meticulously researched, The Oxford History of the French Revolution will provide new insights into one of the most important events in European history.