In this miraculously compressed, incisive book David Andress argues that it was the peasantry of France who made and defended the Revolution of 1789. That the peasant revolution benefitted far more people, in more far reaching ways, than the revolution of lawyerly elites and urban radicals that has dominated our view of the revolutionary period.
History has paid more attention to Robespierre, Danton and Bonaparte than it has to the millions of French peasants who were the first to rise up in 1789, and the most ardent in defending changes in land ownership and political rights. 'Those furthest from the centre rarely get their fair share of the light', Andress writes, and the peasants were patronised, reviled and often persecuted by urban elites for not following their lead.
Andress's book reveals a rural world of conscious, hard-working people and their struggles to defend their ways of life and improve the lives of their children and communities.
'David Andress's important new book is a major contribution in our efforts to rethink the French Revolution' Timothy Tackett, on The Terror.
'Andress writes with verve, never allowing the pace to slacken, moving swiftly from one character or episode to another. The result is exhilarating' Tim Blanning, Sunday Telegraph, on 1789.
'To understand our current political situation, this excellent book is recommended as a handy primer' Spectator, on Cultural Dementia.