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The French Revolution

Hilaire Belloc

Book Overview: 

“It is, for that matter, self-evident that if one community decides in one fashion, another, also sovereign, in the opposite fashion, both cannot be right. Reasoning men have also protested, and justly, against the conception that what a majority in numbers, or even (what is more compelling still) a unanimity of decision in a community may order, may not only be wrong but may be something which that community has no authority to order since, though it possesses a civil and temporal authority, it acts against that ultimate authority which is its own consciousness of right. Men may and do justly protest against the doctrine that a community is incapable of doing deliberate evil; it is as capable of such an action as is an individual. But men nowhere do or can deny that the community acting as it thinks right is ultimately sovereign: there is no alternative to so plain a truth.”

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .have happened had he survived is so fruitful, so entertaining, and so common, and the positive effect of his attitude upon the development of the Revolution after his death was so wide, that to misunderstand Mirabeau is in a large measure to misunderstand the whole movement; and Mirabeau has unfortunately been ill or superficially understood by many among now three generations of historians; for a comprehension of this character is not a matter for research nor for accumulated historic detail, but rather a task for sympathy.

Mirabeau was essentially an artist, with the powers and the frailties which we properly associate with that term: that is, strong emotion appealed to him both internally and externally. He loved to enjoy it himself, he loved to create it in others. He studied, therefore, and was a master of, the material by which such emotion may be created; he himself yielded to strong emotion and sought it where it might be found. It is foolish alike to bel. . . Read More

Community Reviews

The French Revolution (1911), by Hilaire Belloc, is a comparatively short commentary on the great revolutionary experiment between the parliamentary quarrels of 1789 to the execution of Robespierre in 1794. Though the author does not attempt to present a full chronology of events, dwelling mainly...more

For someone looking for a brief Birdseye view of the common French revolt beginning in 1789, The French Revolution by Hilaire Belloc could fit the bill. The book doesn’t go into much detail but lightly touches on all the essential points. The book begins with a sketch of the major personalities i...more

A short pocket book summary of the lives and major events of the French Revolution, by a Fabian Society associate of H. G. Wells. Belloc was a prolific author and a leading politician in Edwardian Britain. In this often-neglected study, (complete with maps) the author makes it clear that some pre...more

Compared to a modern work is kind of disorganized and categorizes the book mostly by important people/civil politics , the military campaigns, and the catholic church. Kinda weird.

This is a somewhat short, but passionate treatment of the French Revolution.

You can't really read this without already having a background about the events, but I'm not going to hold that against the book. I just can't recommend it as an introduction.

The book starts with an examination of the p...more

Good book, difficult to read.

This book presents a concise history of the French Revolution, but at times can be difficult to follow. It is a good start, but I feel like I need to read more books on the topic.


That is not the picture on my cover, so unsure if that is the exact book I read. I am a poor judge of this book as I really understood very little of it. It is due to me however. I have not had any prior exposure to this topic. I like the arrangement, how he has a small amount of information on e...more

This book is a concise overview of the French Revolution. Belloc lays some important foundation that helps one understand the mindset of the public at that time and why the French Revolution was able to take place. One of the interesting facts he brings out is the fact that the Church (read Cath...more

An excellent and concise recounting of the events, persons and meaning of the French Revolution. Decidedly from a catholic perspective.

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