Sunday, August 9, 2009

Review of "1789"

Subtitled "The Threshold of the Modern Age" by David Andress. The book's goal is best quoted from the publisher, Macmillan:

T
he world in 1789 stood on the edge of a unique transformation. At the end of an unprecedented century of progress, the fates of three nations—France; the nascent United States; and their common enemy, Britain—lay interlocked...David Andress reveals how these events unfolded and how the men who led them, such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Emmanuel-Joseph Siey├Ęs, and George Washington, stood at the threshold of the modern world.
I did learn some interesting things while reading it's 398 pages. Taxes in France of the 1780's where paid almost completely by the lower end of the populace as the royalty and rich where mostly exempt from taxation. Also, France was completely broke and this as much as anything led to their revolution. In England, Thomas Paine's writing were so incendiary that he had trouble finding publishers. For his part two of the Rights of Man he had to sign off as publisher to give the actual publisher protection. Cornwallis, after failure in war with America, went on the oversee India and then Ireland with some success.

I have mixed feelings about this book. It is well written and full of history, which I love, but I didn't like this book. I think that this book might be too advanced for me. Maybe if I knew more of the details of English, French history of the 1780's I would have been able to see deeper meaning meant by the author. As it was, I just picked up some interesting tidbits and the rest mostly rolled through the brain.

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