Fire in the Minds of Men: Origins of the Revolutionary Faith (Google eBook)

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Transaction Publishers, Aug 1, 2009 - History - 677 pages
7 Reviews
This book traces the origins of a faith--perhaps the faith of the century. Modern revolutionaries are believers, no less committed and intense than were Christians or Muslims of an earlier era. What is new is the belief that a perfect secular order will emerge from forcible overthrow of traditional authority. This inherently implausible idea energized Europe in the nineteenth century, and became the most pronounced ideological export of the West to the rest of the world in the twentieth century. Billington is interested in revolutionaries--the innovative creators of a new tradition. His historical frame extends from the waning of the French Revolution in the late eighteenth century to the beginnings of the Russian Revolution in the early twentieth century. The theater was Europe of the industrial era; the main stage was the journalistic offices within great cities such as Paris, Berlin, London, and St. Petersburg. Billington claims with considerable evidence that revolutionary ideologies were shaped as much by the occultism and proto-romanticism of Germany as the critical rationalism of the French Enlightenment. The conversion of social theory to political practice was essentially the work of three Russian revolutions: in 1905, March 1917, and November 1917. Events in the outer rim of the European world brought discussions about revolution out of the school rooms and press rooms of Paris and Berlin into the halls of power. Despite his hard realism about the adverse practical consequences of revolutionary dogma, Billington appreciates the identity of its best sponsors, people who preached social justice transcending traditional national, ethnic, and gender boundaries. When this book originally appeared "The New Republic" hailed it as "remarkable, learned and lively," while "The New Yorker" noted that Billington "pays great attention to the lives and emotions of individuals and this makes his book absorbing." It is an invaluable work of history and contribution to our understanding of political life.
  

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Outstanding work.

Review: Fire in the Minds of Men: Origins of the Revolutionary Faith

User Review  - Carol - Goodreads

A great intellectual history - the stuff I studies in college. Read full review

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Contents

BOOK I
15
A Locus of Legitimacy
24
The Objects of Belief
54
The Occult Origins of Organization
86
BOOK II
125
National vs Social Revolution 183048
146
The Evolutionary Alternative
191
The Early Church the 1840s
243
BOOK III
365
Struggle with Revisionism
381
Revolutionary Syndicalism
419
Western Frontier
433
Lenin
443
Builder The Symbiosis of Extremes
469
The Role of Women
482
Beyond Europe
505

Marx vs Proudhon
287
Journalism
306
The Waning of Revolutionary Nationalism
324
notes
562
INDEX
653
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About the author (2009)

James H. Billington is currently the Librarian of Congress. Before that, he served as director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He has been a leading figure in American academic exchange programs, and served as past chairman of the Board of Foreign Scholarship, which directs the Fulbright Program. He is author of Mikhailovsky and Russian Populism and The Icon and the Axe: An Interpretive History of Russian Culture.

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