British historian Taylor (1906-1990) won a wide popular audience with his lucid, epigrammatic style and easy familiarity with the panorama of European history displayed in his books, which include The Struggle for Mastery in Europe, and this miscellany of 58 essays and reviews reflects his enthusiasms and interests. He scathingly attacks Napoleon's memoirs as full of lies and sham emotions; offers witty put-downs of Talleyrand and Metternich; extols English radical reformers John Bright and William Cobbett, Irish patroit Charles Parnell, historian Thomas Macaulay; and shows ambivalence toward Bismarck, Gladstone and Lenin. Taylor identifies a harmful legacy of the revolutions of 1848-the belief that liberty and political equality were negligible in comparison with redress of economic grievances-and he finds the 19th-century's faith in progress epitomized in the communist Second International. Other essays deal with the breakdown of public conscience in the Irish potato famine; the Paris Commune; the Crimean War (``the Cold War in an earlier phase''); and the twilight of imperial Vienna. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/03/1994 Release date: 10/01/1994 Genre: Nonfiction
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