Jan 16 2014

1848: The Revolutionary Tide in Europe by Peter Stearns

This a subject I keep revisiting, without gaining much illumination. Much about the 1848 revolutions remains mysterious to me. It isn’t clear to me what set off the revolutions in the first place, or how or why they occurred simultaneously and independently throughout the major cities of Europe, or why they failed so decisively when they should have had the support of the majority of the people. This book narrates the history of the movement without clarifying any of these issues. It is also frankly a mystery to me why the American Revolution seems to be just about the only successful revolution in history, at least in terms of bringing about a social order that was better than what came before. This book attempts to explain 1848 but does not really get at the central problems.

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