1789: The Threshold of the Modern Age

David Andress, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $27 (439p) ISBN 978-0-374-10013-1

Guiding readers on a journey across the “three interlocked powers of the late 18th century”—France, Britain and the new United States—historian Andress (The Terror ) regales with stories of such leaders as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine and Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès, who stoked the flames of revolution, and Edmund Burke, who tried to extinguish the blaze. Looking at the social, economic, political and imperial factors coming together in 1789, Andress weighs the ironies of that revolutionary moment: the Bill of Rights and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man both appeared in that year, but Andress points out the familiar truth that the freedoms proclaimed by these documents were often compromised by the very governments that trumpeted them. A new language had emerged to confront those holding power, but that language too often licensed aggression against slaves, women and others seen as not subject to guarantees of liberty. Although Andress pedantically covers much familiar ground, he reminds us that the struggle between individual rights and oppressive social systems might have begun in 1789, but it is still with us today. Illus., maps. (Mar. 10)

Reviewed on: 10/13/2008
Release date: 03/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 456 pages - 978-1-4299-3011-6
Paperback - 438 pages - 978-0-316-73197-3
Paperback - 438 pages - 978-0-349-11958-8
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