Revolutions and Revolutionaries

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Hamilton, 1980 - Europe - 165 pages
Violent political upheavals have occurred as long as there have been political communities. But, in Europe, only since the French revolution have they sought not merely to change the rulers but to transform the entire social and political system. One of A.J.P. Taylor's themes in this generously illustrated book, based on his 1978 television lectures, is that revolutions and revolutionaries do not always coincide: those who start them often do so unintentionally, while revolutionaries tend to be most active in periods of counter-revolution. In his lively and combative style the author traces the line of development of the revolutionary tradition from 1789 through Chartism, the social and national upheavals of 1848, the 'revolutionaries without a revolution' of the following sixty years - Marx, Engels, Bakunin, and others - to the Bolshevik seizure of power in 1917.

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Contents

Illustrations
6
Preface
13
Index
163
Copyright

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About the author (1980)

British historian A.J.P. Taylor studied at Oxford University and in 1938 became a fellow of Magdalen College. Interested chiefly in diplomatic and central European history, he is a prolific and masterful writer. Fritz Stern wrote of him and his The Struggle for Mastery in Europe, 1848--1918 (1954) in the Political Science Quarterly: "There is something Shavian about A. J. P. Taylor and his place among academic historians; he is brilliant, erudite, witty, dogmatic, heretical, irritating, insufferable, and withal inescapable. He sometimes insults and always instructs his fellow-historians, and never more so than in his present effort to reinterpret the diplomatic history of Europe from 1848 to the end of the First World War. . . . After a brilliant introduction, in which he defines the balance of power and assesses the relative and changing strength of the Great Powers, Mr. Taylor presents a chronological survey, beginning with the diplomacy of war, 1914--1918. . . . [He] writes on two levels. He narrates the history of European diplomacy and compresses it admirably into a single volume. Imposed upon the narrative is his effort to probe the historical meaning of given actions and conditions. . . . He has a peculiar sense of inevitability, growing out of what he regards the logic of a given development, as well as a delicate feeling for live options and alternatives. Mr. Taylor suggests that fear, not aggression, was the dominant impulse of pre-war diplomacy." The Origins of the Second World War (1961), again controversial and lively, starts from the premise (in Taylor's words) that "the war of 1939, far from being premeditated, was a mistake, the result on both sides of diplomatic blunders." The New Statesman said of it: "Taylor is the only English historian now writing who can bend the bow of Gibbon and Macaulay. [This is] a masterpiece: lucid, compassionate, beautifully written in a bare, sparse style, and at the same time deeply disturbing." Several of Taylor's other works also received high praise. Among these were Bismarck, the Man and the Statesman (1955), in which he exonerated Bismarck; Hapsburg Monarchy, 1809--1914, a survey of the era; and English History, 1919--1945, a volume in the Oxford History of England Series, greeted by the N.Y. Review of Books as "an astonishing tour de force.

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