The Age of Revolution: Europe, 1789-1848

The Age of Revolution: Europe, 1789-1848

The Age of Revolution: Europe, 1789-1848

The Age of Revolution: Europe, 1789-1848

Excerpt

This book traces the transformation of the world between 1789 and 1848 insofar as it was due to what is here called the 'dual revolution' -- the French Revolution of 1789 and the contemporaneous (British) Industrial Revolution. It is therefore strictly neither a history of Europe nor of the world. Insofar as a country felt the repercussions of the dual revolution in this period, I have attempted to refer to it, though often cursorily. Insofar as the impact of the revolution on it in this period was negligible, I have omitted it. Hence the reader will find something about Egypt here, but not about Japan; more about Ireland than about Bulgaria, about Latin America than about Africa. Naturally this does not mean that the histories of the countries and peoples neglected in this volume are less interesting or important than those which are included. If its perspective is primarily European, or more precisely, Franco-British, it is because in this period the world -- or at least a large part of it -- was transformed from a European, or rather a Franco-British, base. However, certain topics which might well have deserved more detailed treatment have also been left aside, not only for reasons of space, but because (like the history of the USA) they are treated at length in other volumes in this series.

The object of this book is not detailed narrative, but interpretation and what the French call haute vulgarisation. Its ideal reader is that theoretical construct, the intelligent and educated citizen, who is not merely curious about the past, but wishes to understand how and why the world has come to be what it is today and whither it is going. Hence it would be pedantic and uncalled-for to load the text with as heavy an apparatus of scholarship as it ought to carry for a more learned public. My notes therefore refer almost entirely to the sources of actual quotations and figures, or in some cases to the authority for statements which are particularly controversial or surprising.

Nevertheless, it is only fair to say something about the material on which a very wide-ranging book such as this is based. All historians are more expert (or to put it another way, more ignorant) in some fields than in others. Outside a fairly narrow zone they must rely largely on . . .

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