The 25 years between the onset of the French Revolution in 1789 and the Bourbon Restoration after Napoleon in 1814 is an astonishing period in world history. This era shook the foundations of the old world and marked a permanent shift for politics, religion, and society - not just for France, but for all of Europe. An account of the events alone reads like something out of a thrilling novel:
Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon is your opportunity to learn the full story of this captivating period. Taught by Dr. Suzanne M. Desan, these 48 exciting lectures give you a broad and comprehensive survey of one of the most important eras in modern history.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2013 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2013 The Great Courses
Professor Desan knows how to give a half hour history class well. She goes from detail to breadth. She identifies themes and explores them. She links them together well. Her style is steady, clear and u dramatic even when dealing with such dramatic subject matter. She lets the primary sources do that work and occasionally introduces humour or a personal touch. Clearly Prof Desan knows much more in greater depth than is presented here. I thoroughly recommend this series for those like me, who know so little when starting the series.
"Mostly French Revolution"
Whilst the course is about the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon, it's primary focus is on the French Revolution. That being said, whilst I'm a fan of Napoleon, this is a bit more hostile towards Napoleon than Napoleon podcast by J David Markham and Cameron Reilly, it's more friendly towards the Revolutionaries.
Overall, this is a great overview of the French Revolution.
Professor Desan's enthusiasm really brought this topic to life. She did an excellent job explaining what was going on in ancien regime France that brought about such a profound event and the revolution's impact on France and Europe. In fact, I have a much better understanding of why the French Revolution is still so important to the French, perhaps even more so than our own. Finally, her lectures on Napoleon were balanced and nuanced. Napoleon is treacherous territory for any historian, but she traversed it with skill and aplomb.
"Such a great balance of the big picture and detail"
This was a marvelous course. Professor Desan has clearly mastered her subject and so her organization and presentation of the material was nothing short of brilliant. She provides an overview of the forces at work during this historical period and illustrates them with wonderful particulars - songs, quotes, diary entries, letters, etc. She gives you a sense of what it felt like to be alive during each of the stages of the Revolution.
I recommend this with no reservations.
"Feels like you're there"
This course combines big historic events and trends during the era of the French Revolution and through Napoleon's reign with the everyday lives of the people who lived during that time. We need more history courses like this.
"Amazing events amazing presentation"
Yes, the narrative was well told. You really get an understanding of what was happening, what the atmosphere must have been like. Professor Desan is great to listen to and does not bore even after many hours.
When France became a republic
N/A, this was not a storybook
No. Throughout the course, one becomes immersed and grows attachments to certain characters and certain sides. I wouldn't want that to all be over so quickly.
If you are on the fence about getting this. Get it!
"One of the Better Courses"
Loved it. Through and Through.
She's got a great speaking voice-
very good overview of the events during the french revolution, the factions, and the later napoleonic era. engaging and very well done. i recommend it.
Memorable, entertaining tale
Suzanne Desan picks her examples & words carefully. This is not presented in a dry manner, but is comprehensive in scope.
Far too long (at 48 lessons) but couldn't wait to listen to next chapters.
This is educational but it's pure fun too. Beautifully planned to keep you interested & informed.
"Fascinating History Very Well Told"
Professor Desan does a tremendous job explaining what led to the revolution, how it wen awry, and the consequences. An engrossing look at one of the most fascinating periods in history.
"Perfect amount of information"
Professor Desan has written a narrative that details enough information to give the listener the insights needed to make sense of the French Revolution, the Terror, the Hundred Days and finally the carving up of Europe and the Americas that reveal the reasons that eventually lead to the modern era and its wars.
The performance is dry. Imagine your favorite professor at the lectern going on about the love of her life. She has real enthusiasm but lacks the inflections of a professional reader.
If you are a person with a curiosity about history, you should definitely get this course.
"Revolution vs. tradition"
The French Revolution is this two-headed historical anomaly. On the one hand, a brutal repression (think: off with your head) followed by the most devastating wars until the 20th century. On the other hand, it is the first spread of democratic ideals and human rights in continental Europe. The point is not to judge but to try explain the commonality between those two, very different, interpretations and, perhaps, draw more philosophical lessons on the price paid for liberties we enjoy idea.
The book delivers a set of answers to this question and it is of course, nearly impossible to summarize those answers in a few sentences or without the historical context. Yet, I'd like to try to phrase the most contemporary insight that comes out of it. Human progress, as it seems, appears to be driven between the forces of tradition and order (conservatism) vs. the forces of idealism and change (liberalism). Where tradition is based on concrete practices, inherited from parents and ancestors, idealism posits fresh beliefs and ideas. Where order emphasizes social peace, change values the destruction of whatever came before.
Perhaps this one-time event in history is teaching us the value of moderation, of a middle-way. That even idealistic improvements to human conditions, where applied brutally with no respect for existing institutions and context, are portent of ill consequences. The end does not justify the means. It also tells us that unrestricted reverence for a set of traditions without any consideration of their social consequences is a dangerous route. In summary, it tells us about the value of slowly evolving, adaptative institutions.
Really very good, focuses on the political and social side more than Napoleon, though he still does feature heavily. I will certainly be getting more books from The Great Courses.
"Entertaining and Informative"
Lectures always work best in their original format. However, I feel that the lack of visual images did not bother me at all - the descriptions were vivid and clear.
I was particularly fond of the stories of 'little' individuals, especially those not often mentioned in the context of the topic.
Enthusiasm, passion for history, sense of humour.
I was left hungry for more. Unfortunately, another Great Courses lecture series I tried just did not compare to this one. I wish Professor Desan would expand on another topic in a similar way.
This is the best Great Courses series I've ever listened to (and I've got through quite a few). It was absolutely enthralling all the way. Just the right level of detail, and just the right degree of focus on individual stories and anecdotes to illustrate the broader themes. I felt I really got a sense of the extraordinary fervour of the times – the boundless uncertainty, fear and optimism – and it felt almost like an unfolding story, as if the eventual endings were not inevitable.
I disagree with a previous reviewer who complained that Desan was excessively biased in favour of Robespierre. Admittedly, very occasionally she makes statements appearing to justify some violent action (e.g. the execution of the king) and it's not clear whether she's simply explaining the perpetrators' perspective, or whether she is also attempting to present that perspective as one she personally endorses. This doesn't stop her from giving a full sense of the horrors of the revolution's dark side and the grievances felt by many anti-revolutionary French.
By the end of the course I felt a real desire to find out what happened next in France for the remainder of the century in the same level of detail and narrative style, or else dive in further detail into certain strands of the revolution. I don't think there's anything quite like this.
if they wanted to know about the frecnh revolution then yes
clear and no mistakes
"Vive la France!"
This is a brilliant audiobook. Suzanne is passionate about the subject and it shines through. The book gives a surprising amount of detail about the run-up to the French Revolution before Napoleon's appearance. I liked the reference to literature, politics and fashion that goes beyond the detail I have read before on the topic.
The first Chapter. The author is so passionate about the French Revolution that it is funny at first, until you get used to it. I enjoyed the character description/development of Robespierre and needless to say, the arrival of the big man, himself - Napoleon.
The assassination of Marat, Napoleon's rise to power, the life of Robespierre.
If I could have, I would have.
The book gave a real insight into the importance of the French Revolution and its influence on the world today.
the author is passionate and very knowledgeable about her subject, which makes her a great teacher.
"Lectures given by Robespierre's mother"
The lecturer can't restrain her enthusiasm for France and all things French. A little more objectivity would be helpful. Liberty and freedom are not the gift of France to the world. Listening to this you might imagine that no other nation had ever thought of them.
The events themselves are remarkable and all the facts are there. When I got to the end I knew much more about French history than when I started. However she can't resist giving too much of her own opinion
Not if it was about France, she just is not objective enough.
By and large yes.
The author makes too much of an effort to defend the indefensible and justify the unjustifiable. She tries too hard to bend the facts to suit her own ideological viewpoint. The French revolution was controversial then and divides opinion now. You would not know it from listening to this.
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