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Summary

The principles of the French Revolution remain the only possible basis for a just society - even if, after more than 200 years, they are more contested than ever before. In A New World Begins, Jeremy D. Popkin offers a riveting account of the revolution that puts the listener in the thick of the debates and the violence that led to the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of a new society. 

We meet Mirabeau, Robespierre, and Danton, in all of their brilliance and vengefulness; we witness the failed escape and execution of Louis XVI; we see women demanding equal rights and Black slaves wresting freedom from revolutionaries who hesitated to act on their own principles; and we follow the rise of Napoleon out of the ashes of the Reign of Terror.

Based on decades of scholarship, A New World Begins will stand as the definitive treatment of the French Revolution.

©2019 Jeremy D. Popkin (P)2020 Dreamscape Media, LLC

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Great suff

This is not a subject I"am yes very familiar with. Well thought out and researched with thoroughly enjoyable narration. I suggest this for someone with a little background knowledge . There are many books already available regarding the French Revolution. In my opinion this volume has earned its place among the others the than add to clutter!

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excellent as far as I (a non historian) can tell

I enjoyed it, the content was well spoken although I cannot tell you how good the pronunciation was.

covers lots of subjects endemic to modern life: economic exploitation, privilege, fake news.
also surprising appearances of other subjects like music, dictionaries and theatre

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Injects utter tedium into a fascinating subject

The blurb from “A New World Begins” suggests that it will stand as the definitive treatment of the French Revolution. If I’m honest I struggled to find an original thought anywhere within.

The Revolution has been a titanic battleground between utterly incompatible schools of history. At one extreme there are the historians in the mould of Francois Furet, who was a towering intellect even if I disagree with most of the assumptions underpinning his work. At the other, writers like Jaures, Lefebvre and, more recently, Hazan, whose “people’s history” excels at providing the kind of characterisation and context that Popkin seems sporadically to aim at, who attempt to see the Revolution through the analytical framework of class-based social relations. Don’t go looking to this book, to understand where Popkin comes down on any of this or what he feels he has to add to a subject on which hundreds of books have been written. I make this criticism conscious that I have not looked at the paper version of the book and sometimes footnotes in scholarly works get omitted from the audiobook.

For me, I think Popkin is excellent in describing the intellectual milieu of pre-revolutionary Paris. it is also clear that he can delve into a diverse range of sources when of a mind to. Yet when it comes to the crux of the story, the evolution of the Jacobin regime, the economic and military crises, emergence of the Terror, the mobilisation of the Parisian masses to exert pressure on the National Assembly, the long succession of executions as the petit-bourgeois leaders alienate the masses, betray the promises of the revolutionary constitution and ultimately open the door to conservative elements, culminating on the Directory and in Bonaparte, I can’t find a single thing Popkin adds to a well-known story. So in what way is this even intended to be definitive? Quite the contrary, although there’s clearly effort taken to describe the pre-revolutionary scene, once the events begin unfolding, the book is just a long chronological account where the flatness of the narrator’s voice begins to grind on one’s patience.

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  • Tom Masters
  • 27-05-21

A great and engaging story

I’ve been looking for a comprehensive introduction to the French Revolution and this book finally meets my needs.

It is well written and easy to follow. As someone who listens to a lot of books on history, I especially appreciate that the author frequently gives dates (it’s a little thing, but goes a long way).

The author is not without his biases (excusing Robespierre and his colleagues, while being critical of Napoleon), but it doesn’t detract from this sweeping story.

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