The New Regime: Transformations of the French Civic Order, 1789-1820s

Isser Woloch, Author W. W. Norton & Company $35 (536p) ISBN 978-0-393-03591-9
Based largely on archival sources, Columbia University history professor Woloch's engrossing study takes a fresh look at the civic order that supplanted France's monarchy in the wake of the Revolution. The new republic's ambitious programs for universal elementary education and public assistance for the poor and elderly, though crippled by hyperinflation in the mid-1790s, nevertheless became part of the nation's civic agenda, shows Woloch. The introduction of trial by jury and other legal reforms aimed to make justice direct and inexpensive. The new regime's overriding concern was to gain control over the countryside, which it did by empowering popularly mandated village oligarchies. Despite widespread draft evasion, Napoleon Bonaparte's obsession with imposing military conscription during a time of relative tranquility paved the way for Imperial France's extravagant military campaigns. If debates over welfare entitlements, campaigns to aid the homeless and anger at corrupt, do-nothing politicians sound like today's headlines, they are all here, in a penetrating glimpse of the dawn of the modern age. Photos. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
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Paperback - 540 pages - 978-0-393-31397-0
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