The Expanding Blaze: How the American Revolution Ignited the World, 1775–1848

Jonathan Israel. Princeton Univ., $39.95 (744p) ISBN 978-0-691-17660-4
Israel (Revolutionary Ideas), professor emeritus of modern history at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, stoutly makes the case that the American Revolution was “of immense consequence for America’s future and for the rest of globe.” Though not a new argument, it has never before been made so fully or with such convincing force. Known for many works on the Enlightenment, Israel here carries onto the American scene his controversial argument that there were two “Enlightenments”: the “moderate” and the “radical.” Only American representatives of the radical one, he argues, fully gave up on traditional religion, mixed government, and superstition in favor of secular representative government and thought. While open to the same criticisms that his moderate-radical dichotomy has long faced, i.e. that it is oversimplistic, Israel’s argument here doesn’t detract from the work’s exhilarating urgency. Nor does it mar Israel’s success in showing the American Revolution’s influence on spurring revolutionary activity in such places as Haiti, Ireland, and Latin America. He follows others in placing American events into their broadest transatlantic context and he puts intellectual currents at the center of his story by arguing against others that the relevance of the American Revolution to world affairs has never ended. Like Israel’s previous books, this bravura, complex, learned interpretation of 75 years of revolutionary history is sure to stir debate. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/24/2017
Release date: 09/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 768 pages - 978-0-691-19593-3
Open Ebook - 768 pages - 978-1-4008-8827-6
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