The French Revolution never ceases to fascinate. Marie-Antoinette and Robespierre, the storming of the Bastille and the 'Marseillaise', the Terror and its guillotine: such is the stuff of historical works, novels, films, and exhibitions. The Revolution remains with us today, and not only in the slogan 'liberty, equality and fraternity'. Subjects of the king became citizens of the nation in 1789, the possibility of universal suffrage was broached, and the notion of public opinion became a fundamental part of politics. Our nomenclature of 'left' and 'right' derives from where members of the revolutionary assembly sat in their chamber. The modern passport and the semaphore telegraph were developed at the time. The metric system is one of the longest-lasting and most omnipresent results of efforts to standardise weights and measures and, in a more general sense, to make the world a more logical place.
Robert Aldrich reviews 'Liberty or Death: The French Revolution' by Peter McPhee
Liberty or Death: The French Revolution
by Peter McPhee
Yale University Press (Footprint), $55.95 hb, 487 pp, 9780300189933
If you are a single issue subscriber you will need to upgrade your subscription to view back issues.If you are already subscribed, click here to log in.
Robert Aldrich is Professor of European History at the University of Sydney, author of Vestiges of the Colonial Empire in France: Monuments, Museums and Colonial Memories (2005), and editor of The Age of Empires (2007). His latest book, Gay Life Stories (2012), was reviewed by Brian McFarlane in the June 2012 issue of ABR.
By this contributor
Leave a comment
Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.
NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.