The Days of the French Revolution by Christopher Hibbert

Of the half dozen or so books on the French Revolution I have read so far, this is probably the best one. Yet the Revolution continues to confuse and bewilder me. How could something that began so well turn out so badly? It began as a genuinely democratic movement, but soon degenerated into something far more sinister, and it ended in the reign of Napoleon, a far more absolute monarch than any of the French kings had ever been. And all of this mayhem took place in what was then perhaps the most civilized nation in continental Europe. It should serve as a warning that democracy is not necessarily the salvation of a nation and that the rule of the people can only be as good and as just as the people are themselves. It was entirely appropriate to read this book on the eve of an election (November 4, 2014).

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