The Oxford History of the French Revolution (2nd Edition) by William Doyle

I now have a feeling for how complex the French Revolution was, since the author goes into great detail while still taking the story from roughly 1775 to 1815. However, this isn’t an introduction to the topic. Events and personalities are mentioned and described as if the author expects the reader to know a lot about French history already. 

A couple things I learned: The large debt France accrued by supporting the American revolution was one of the factors that led to dissatisfaction and the eventual revolution. And the revolution had a major effect on the entire French population, not just the residents of Paris. Most of the victims of the Terror, for example, weren’t Parisians. The revolution also affected all of Europe as it quickly led to war between France and most of its neighbors.

One thing I thought was odd: The author implies that the American revolution played no role in fomenting revolution in France (other than the effect of the debt France acquired):

The modern idea of revolution goes back no further than 1789. But once it had occurred in France, the idea that it was possible, and right, to overthrow an existing order by force, and on grounds of general principles rather than existing law, was launched. Simultaneously a new figure appeared on the stage of history: the revolutionary. There had been no revolutionaries before 1789. 

Tell that to the men who signed the Declaration of Independence or fought in our Revolutionary War. For that matter, tell it to George III.

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