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The Great Nation: France from Louis XV to Napoleon
     

The Great Nation: France from Louis XV to Napoleon

3.0 1
by Colin Jones
 

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There can be few more mesmerizing historical narratives than the story of how the confident monarchy left by Louis XIV in 1715 became the discredited failure toppled by revolution in 1789. This brilliant new book is the first in forty years to describe the whole period, from the last days of the “Sun King” to the wars of Napoleon. In a groundbreaking work

Overview

There can be few more mesmerizing historical narratives than the story of how the confident monarchy left by Louis XIV in 1715 became the discredited failure toppled by revolution in 1789. This brilliant new book is the first in forty years to describe the whole period, from the last days of the “Sun King” to the wars of Napoleon. In a groundbreaking work of scholarship, Colin Jones argues that, contrary to popular belief, the house of Bourbon’s downfall was hardly a foregone conclusion. Producing an illuminating account of a society torn apart from within, he recounts the saga of how a dynamic French society—the heart of the Enlightenment—fell prey to the debt and humiliation of its wars against Britain.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The fullest and most reliable history we have of eighteenth-century France.” —William Doyle, Independent

“This is a work that merits the French designation magistral: masterly and authoritative.” —Robin Buss, Financial Times

Publishers Weekly
Historian Jones (The Cambridge Illustrated History of France) has written an exhaustive account of 18th-century France, emphasizing political and economic history. He paints a portrait of a nation opposed to Bourbon absolutism throughout the century, not just at the time of the Revolution. Beginning in the waning years of Louis XIV, philosophers, Jansenists, taxpayers and especially the Paris Parlement, which saw itself as the defender of fundamental law, all criticized the Bourbon regime, pointing to its unwise, revenue-draining wars; persecution of religious dissidents; and ruling in a manner unresponsive to the public will. As Jones convincingly points out, the French Enlightenment changed everything, bringing to the fore a concept of "popular opinion" that would lead the French to believe they had a voice in how their nation was governed. Increasingly after 1750, public opinion became a powerful antiabsolutist influence. Jones devotes an excellent chapter to the Encyclopedie, which he says symbolized a crucial change in French culture and politics. Jones also details the intricate politics of the century, explaining how the monarchs' principal ministers attempted to prop up Bourbon authority and revenues. On the Revolution, Jones is first-rate, especially in depicting the bloody factional feuding between the Jacobins and Girondins. He finishes his book with the Directory and the 1799 coup of Napoleon Bonaparte. This is an outstanding book for academics and students looking for a one-volume overview of the century, but perhaps too dense for the general readers other than those devoted to French history. Two maps. (Mar.)
Library Journal
This eminently readable political history of 18th-century France aims to revise the traditional interpretation of the ancien regime. British historian Jones defiantly eschews this term, arguing that historians' preoccupation with the revolution has caused them to ignore the real vitality and achievements of France from 1715 to the revolution. The 18th century, he reminds us, was France's century, and he attempts a comprehensive look at the period, emphasizing its strengths and continuities. At the time, France was a modern state, not a state in decline. The nobility was engaging more and more in the economic life of the nation; improved communication aided trade, industry, and agriculture; and foreign and colonial trade increased dramatically. Jones gives the Enlightenment similar continuity, arguing that the language of opposition and criticism that emerged after 1750 drew upon a tradition of discourse that in some cases predated 1715. Recapturing the "joy and fear" engendered by the onset of the revolution, Jones allows us to see the period as contemporaries did. An important work that should be welcomed by scholars and specialists, this is recommended for academic collections.-Marie Marmo Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., NJ Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
National Post

"Colin Jones...has, with The Great Nation, published the work of a lifetime...This is a wonderful, often luminous narrative set against the great sweep fo the 18th century."

New York Review of Books

What is excellent in Colin Jones' account... is his success in displaying the logic... of Law's rise and fall.

London Review of Books

Jones's book has been needed for some time.

Dallas Morning News

Mr. Jones has written a comprehensive, objective book on a subject that is notoriously difficult to be objective about.

American Historical Review
This charming illustration encapsulates many of the book's strengths; it is a powerful and graceful narrative general history of the Old Regime and French Revolution.

— D. M. G. Sutherland

American Historical Review - D. M. G. Sutherland

This charming illustration encapsulates many of the book's strengths; it is a powerful and graceful narrative general history of the Old Regime and French Revolution.

American Historical Review - D.M.G. Sutherland
This charming illustration encapsulates many of the book's strengths; it is a powerful and graceful narrative general history of the Old Regime and French Revolution.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140130935
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/30/2003
Pages:
688
Sales rank:
1,162,686
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

T.C.W. Blanning
This brilliant — and brilliantly readable — book is the best history of eighteenth-century France available in any language... a masterly combination of narrative and analysis.
T. C. W. Blanning

This brilliant -- and brilliantly readable -- book is the best history of eighteenth-century France available in any language... a masterly combination of narrative and analysis.

T. C. W. Blanning, editor of The Oxford History of Modern Europe

From the Publisher
“The fullest and most reliable history we have of eighteenth-century France.” —William Doyle, Independent

“This is a work that merits the French designation magistral: masterly and authoritative.” —Robin Buss, Financial Times

Meet the Author

Colin Jones is professor of history at the University of Warwick, England.

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The Great Nation: France from Louis XV to Napoleon 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was somewhat intimidated by this book in the beginning as I am certainly not a scholar of French history. It starts of with an allmost overwhelming amout of details concerning the status of the French aristocracy. It would have been helpful had I been more familiar with early modern history of Franch prior to reading this book. The book refers to 'Jansenism' and the 'Fronde' extensively without defining those terms. I was rewarded in sticking with the book and gaining a greater insight into the transformation from Bourbon Absolutism to the Republican Revolution. Too many histories focus upon the Revolution as an inevitable consequence of French enlightment. This book dispells this myth showing the Royalist trying to make rational decisions regarding the economic and social situation the found themselve in during the years leading up to the Bastille. I wish the book would have focused more upon why the French nation was considered 'Great'. Was it because of the cultural and political influence the Bourbons held? Was it due to French miltary or colonial prowess? The book seems to suggest it was due to the intellectual contributions of the French poltical philophers such as Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, et. al. Although I am not so sure if that is correct. Overall, an excellent overview of 18th century French political history. I would recommend the book but caution the reader to brush up on his or her general understanding of continental Europe prior to the Enlightenment.