Further reading

If this book has achieved its aims, readers will not be surprised to learn that the literature of the French Revolution is truly vast. Much of the detailed work is also in French, although there is more of quality in English than on most historical topics outside the anglophone sphere. Fortunately most of the books in the following very select list have substantial bibliographies and often detailed footnotes from which particular aspects of the subject can be pursued beyond anything possible in a very short introduction.

General surveys

M. Broers, Europe under Napoleon 1799–1815 (London, 1996). Treats the Napoleonic epic as a prolongation of the Revolution. A tour de force.

W. Doyle, The Oxford History of the French Revolution (Oxford, 1989). Not simply about the Revolution in France, but also its impact on Europe as a whole.

F. Furet, Revolutionary France 1770–1870 (Oxford, 1992). The leading late twentieth-century French authority sets the Revolution in the longer-term sweep of his country’s history.

C. Jones, The Longman Companion to the French Revolution (London, 1988). An invaluable compendium of useful information.

A. Mathiez, The French Revolution (London, 1928). The classic account: compellingly written with passionate commitment.

S. Schama, Citizens. A Chronicle of the French Revolution (London, 1989). The bestseller of the bicentennial year, immensely readable, extremely long, accelerating towards an abrupt conclusion in 1794.

D. M. G. Sutherland, France 1789–1815. Revolution and Counter-Revolution (London, 1986). Rich in detail, taking in Napoleon as well as the revolutionary decade.


T. C. W. Blanning, The French Revolution, Class War or Culture Clash? (London, 1998). Spikily readable reflections on the direction of the debate since the 1950s.

A. Cobban, The Social Interpretation of the French Revolution (2nd edition, Cambridge, 1999). A reissue of the founding text of revisionism, with an introduction by Gwynne Lewis.

F. Furet, Interpreting the French Revolution (Cambridge, 1982). Furet’s initial manifesto against the ‘Jacobino-Marxist Vulgate’.

G. Lewis, The French Revolution. Rethinking the Debate (London, 1993). Vigorously written attempt to salvage classic traditions from a generation of revisionism and post-revisionism.

C. Lucas (ed.), Rewriting the French Revolution (Oxford, 1991). Bicentennial lectures by an international panel of authorities.

J. M. Roberts, The French Revolution (2nd edition, Oxford, 1999). Thoughtful reflections on the Revolution’s ambiguities.

A. de Tocqueville, The Old Regime and the Revolution (London, 1988). There are many editions of this most enduring of analyses. This one has a useful introduction by Norman Hampson.


R. Chartier, The Cultural Origins of the French Revolution (Durham, NC, 1991). Authoritative post-revisionist survey.

W. Doyle, Origins of the French Revolution (3rd edition, Oxford, 1999). Contains a historiographical survey as well as an analytical account.

G. Lefebvre, The Coming of the French Revolution (Princeton, 1947). The best analysis in the classic tradition.

B. Stone, The Genesis of the French Revolution. A Global-historical Interpretation (Cambridge, 1994). Attempts to set the origins in a wider context.

T. Tackett, Becoming a Revolutionary. The Deputies of the French National Assembly and the Emergence of a Revolutionary Culture (1789–1790) (Princeton, 1996). Careful analysis of the early stages of the revolutionary process.


F. Aftalion, The French Revolution. An Economic Interpretation (Cambridge, 1990).

D. Arasse, The Guillotine and the Terror (London, 1989).

N. Aston, Religion and Revolution in France 1780–1804 (London, 2000). Incorporates thirty years of scholarship since McManners.

T. C. W. Blanning, The French Revolutionary Wars 1787–1802 (London, 1996).

M. Crook, Elections in the French Revolution (Cambridge, 1996).

A. Forrest, The French Revolution and the Poor (Oxford, 1981).

H. Gough, The Newspaper Press in the French Revolution (London, 1988).

_____ The Terror in the French Revolution (London, 1998).

P. Jones, The Peasantry and the French Revolution (Cambridge, 1988).

D. P. Jordan, The King’s Trial. Louis XVI versus the French Revolution (Berkeley, 1979).

M. Lyons, Napoleon Bonaparte and Legacy of the French Revolution (London, 1994).

J. McManners, The French Revolution and the Church (London, 1969). Elegant and moving brief survey, superbly readable.

S. E. Melzer and L. E. Rabine (eds.), Rebel Daughters. Women and the French Revolution (New York, 1992).

J. Roberts, The Counter-Revolution in France 1787–1830 (London, 1991).

G. Rudé, The Crowd in the French Revolution (Oxford, 1965).

P. W. Schroeder, The Transformation of European Politics, 1763–1848 (Oxford, 1994). The latest thinking on international relations in the age of revolutions.

G. A. Williams, Artisans and Sansculottes. Popular Movements in France and Britain during the French Revolution (2nd edition, London, 1988).


I. Germani, Jean-Paul Marat, Hero and Anti-hero of the French Revolution (Lampeter, 1992).

N. Hampson, The Life and Opinions of Maximilien Robespierre (London, 1974). Brilliant reflections on the problems of interpreting this central figure.

_____ Danton (London, 1978).

J. Hardman, Louis XVI (London and New Haven, 1993). Idiosyncratic biography, at its best before 1789.

C. Haydon and W. Doyle (eds.), Robespierre (Cambridge, 1998). Essays on the significance of Robespierre in the Revolution and later.

F. Markham, Napoleon (London, 1963). Still the best short introduction to Napoleon’s life.

W. Roberts, Jacques-Louis David, Revolutionary Artist. Art, Politics and the French Revolution (Chapel Hill, NC, 1989).

R. B. Rose, Gracchus Babeuf. The First Revolutionary Communist (London, 1978).


H. Ben Israel, English Historians of the French Revolution (Cambridge, 1968). Surveys nineteenth-century debates.

G. Best (ed.), The Permanent Revolution. The French Revolution and its Legacy, 1789–1989 (London, 1988). Eight distinguished essayists explore the Revolution’s enduring importance.

R. Gildea, The Past in French History (New Haven and London, 1994). Analyses the haunting of modern French history by revolutionary ghosts.

E. J. Hobsbawm, Echoes of the Marseillaise. Two Centuries Look Back on the French Revolution (London, 1990). A Marxist lament for the loss of old certainties.

S. L. Kaplan, Farewell, Revolution (2 vols, Ithaca, New York, 1995). Long and wordy, but the fullest account of the bicentenary of 1989 in France. Volume I covers the public commemoration, volume II the historical debate.

J. Klaits and M. H. Haltzel (eds.), The Global Ramifications of the French Revolution (Cambridge, 1994). Wide-ranging essays touching some unexpected areas.

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