The Enlightenment had dislodged Christianity from its central position in the life of European societies. Man's quest for ecstasy and trancendance flooded into areas such as the arts, spawning the Romantic movement. By the late 18th and early 19th century this secular quest for salvation gave rise to a widespread desire for ideal communities. The author traces how worship and dedication originally channelled through the church was refocused on the cause of the people and the nation. This dramatic journey begins in America in 1776 and goes right up to the last agony of the Paris commune in 1871, taking in the French Revolution, the Irish rebellion, the Polish risings, the war of Greek liberation, the Russian insurrection, Hungarian struggles for freedom, the liberation of South America and the Italian Risorgimento.
Adam Zamoyski was born in New York of Polish parents but has spent most of his life in England. He was educated at Downside and Queen's College, Oxford.