Book Reviews,  Europe,  History,  NON FICTION

The Days of the French Revolution by Christopher Hibbert ** (of 4)

days-french-revolution-christopher-hibbert-paperback-cover-artAfter attempting Simon Schama’s philosophical treatise on the French Revolution, I thought it best to turn to Christopher Hibbert to get the play-by-play.  What a mistake.  Hibbert boils the revolution down to ten chapters.  If only each chapter began where the previous left off.  Instead, the first half of each launches a few months or years later, continuing as if you knew who was in the streets and parlements.  After fifteen or twenty pages of lackluster and wandering prose, he hones in on a single story, which, while captivating, never seems to make much sense without sufficient context.  Anyway, here’s what I now know about the French Revolution.  It was not a revolt by a unified public against a fascist dictator.  Rather, there appear to be about a dozen different interests representing different socio-economic strata.  They all fought for their own interests in a dizzying array of alliances.  They changed their minds a lot.  The revolution takes around a decade.  Everyone alive in France at the time wrote down what he observed so modern historians have access to the mindset and name of enough people to spin your head like a dreidel.  The political pendulum swung left and right, the guillotine climbed up and down, the monarchy ended, but Napoleon Bonaparte ended the revolution by becoming emperor.  My recommendation is to skip this book and watch Les Mis.