This volume, comprising Part I of the author's classic work Revolutionary France 1770-1880, offers a vivid narrative and radical reinterpretation of the years surrounding the momentous events of 1789 and their aftermath. During this period there were not one, but two revolutions: by intent the first was egalitarian, the second - Bonaparte's authoritarian. The tension between the two characterized the period and was to shape the Republic that eventually emerged from the ruins of the ancien regime.The narrative begins in the last years of Louis XVI. Professor Furet provides a graphic account of the years leading up to the Revolution and of the Revolution itself. The sovereignty of the people was as absolute as the monarchy it replaced, and the Terror its tragic and inevitable consequence. In 1799, after a well-planned and executed military coup, Bonaparte seized power and within five years had made himself France's first emperor. Napoleon conquered not only half Europe but the aspirations of the Revolution, and put in place the laws and institutions by which France is still largely governed.
The volume ends with Napoleon's defeat, and the start of a new chain of events that was to lead to the establishment of the Third Republic in 1871.
Francois Furet is Director of Studies at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and Professor of History at the University of Chicago. He is considered throughout the world to be the most outstanding living historian of the French Revolution.