Even twenty or more years after the event, any set of acknowledgments for a book about the origins of the French Revolution must begin with the series of bicentennial conferences entitled “The French Revolution and the Creation of Modern Political Culture,” especially the first one at the University of Chicago in 1987 on the subject of the political culture of the Old Regime. Organized, as were the others, by Keith Michael Baker, Colin Lucas, the late François Furet, and Mona Ozouf, it was that conference in particular and the volume of its proceedings published in its wake that brought three decades of “revisionist” thought to a climax and made the origins of the great Revolution the “problem” that it remains today. In the case of this volume, the debt is quite concrete. Besides Keith Baker and the coeditors of this volume, two other contributors—Gail Bossenga and Jeremy Popkin—are also veterans of that seminal conference.
In addition to writing their chapters, both Gail Bossenga and Jack Goldstone went well beyond the call of duty in giving the editors’ introduction and conclusion a very close reading, from which those two essays—the bookends of this book, as it were—benefited not a little. It goes without saying that the editors alone remain responsible for the ways in which they mined Bossenga’s and Goldstone’s chapters as well as the others in elaborating the line of argument contained in that introduction and conclusion. In the regretful—and unplanned—absence of any French contributors to the volume, the editors’ introduction and conclusion also benefited from very thorough readings by Yann Fauchois of the Bibliothèque Nationale and Rita Hermon-Belot of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes et Sciences Sociales. Where other individual chapters are concerned, Jack Goldstone wishes to thank William Doyle of the University of Bristol for a very helpful reading of his chapter, Jeffrey Merrick thanks the Wisconsin French History Group for collective comments in reaction to his