Saturday, September 29, 2018

Review of 'Paris and London in the 18th Century'

I'd forgotten what it's like to read a book written by academics for academics. This is 'studies in popular protests,, but it's definitely not for a popular audience. It's proper academic history, from primary sources, and it assumes that everyone knows the main outline of the events covered. I remembered some of that from A level history - who the Hebertists were, and so on - but I'd forgotten lots, which meant that it was only possible to read this with Wikipedia at hand.

And it's more than a bit repetitive, partly because it's actually a collection of essays once published separately, so it makes the same point again and again - mainly that 'the crowd' and 'the mob' consisted of respectable members of the 'lower orders' (artisans, craftsment, small shopkeepers) rather than either proletarians-in-formation or criminals and vagabonds. It also makes it clear that popular protest often wasn't  about what we'd think of as progressive politics - in England there was always a strong element of chauvinism and Protestant supremacy.

Not a fun read though - I think I'd rather have re-read Mark Steel's Vive La Revolution again.

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