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The revolutions that raged across Europe and the Americas over seven decades, from 1760 to 1825, created the modern world. Revolutionaries shattered empires, toppled social hierarchies, and birthed a world of republics. But old injustices lingered on and the powerful engines of revolutionary change created new and insidious forms of inequality.
In The Age of Revolutions, historian Nathan Perl-Rosenthal offers the first narrative history of this entire era. Through a kaleidoscope of lives both familiar and unknown—from John Adams, Toussaint Louverture, and Napoleon to an ambitious French naturalist and a seditious Peruvian nun—he retells the revolutionary epic as a generational story. The first revolutionary generation, fired by radical ideas, struggled to slip the hierarchical bonds of the old order. Their failures molded a second generation, more adept at mass organizing but with an illiberal tint. The sweeping political transformations they accomplished after 1800 etched social and racial inequalities into the foundations of modern democracy.
A breathtaking history spanning three continents, The Age of Revolutions uncovers how the period’s grand political transformations emerged across oceans and, slowly and unevenly, over generations.
“Between 1760 and 1825, two generations of revolutionaries challenged old inequalities in Europe and the Americas. A fascinating book about the individual trajectories and the generational divides that contributed to this decisive era in the history of equality.”Thomas Piketty, New York Times–bestselling author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century
“The Age of Revolutions offers a vivid and insightful account of an era that did much to create the world we live in today. Drawing on a remarkable range of historical sources, Nathan Perl-Rosenthal carefully traces how radical ideas, political movements, and counter-revolutionary reactions flourished within and between societies. He makes clear the ambiguity of historical outcomes. Even as mass activism emerged on the world stage, setting the stage for revolutions to come, elements of old regimes—notably slavery—survived, mocking the new language of equal rights. As a result, Perl-Rosenthal shows, subsequent generations throughout the Atlantic world had to continue the revolutionary project.”Eric Foner, author of The Second Founding
“In this magisterial survey of the Age of Revolutions, Nathan Perl-Rosenthal ranges boldly across time and space, exploring familiar sites like Philadelphia and Paris alongside others less known, like Indigenous Peru or Hasidic Poland. Grounded in archives in multiple languages on three continents, this extraordinarily ambitious book challenges traditional ways of thinking about revolutionary change. An impressive accomplishment.”François Furstenberg, author of When the United States Spoke French
“Nathan Perl-Rosenthal delivers a beautifully written and deeply considered account of the Atlantic Age of Revolutions. His stands with the best new work on this key era, highlighting the long fights that give rise to political change, the ironies and illiberalism that characterize such fights, and the legacies they bequeath. Both panoramic and granular, The Age of Revolutions makes one really feel and experience the fraught changes seen by the many ages and stages, and most especially the diverse people, that made revolution.”Sujit Sivasundaram, author of Waves Across the South
“Nathan Perl-Rosenthal’s book is a tour de force of originality and erudition. A vivid new interpretation, in elegant prose, of the generations who transformed the Atlantic world and founded new nations on the American continent. From the independence of the United States to the emancipation of Haiti and Peru, without omitting the political eruptions in Europe, the book synthesizes the latest research and develops new interpretations in accessible, elegant prose. Weaving together famous episodes and little-known characters and events, The Age of Revolutions makes an argument about the limits of the revolutions’ emancipatory and egalitarian character. Vividly describing individual trajectories, with an extraordinary mastery of facts and historiography, Nathan Perl-Rosenthal draws a new map of the revolutionary Atlantic, stretching from the Netherlands to the Andes, via Paris, Saint-Domingue, and Philadelphia.”Clément Thibaud, School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences
- On Sale
- Feb 20, 2024
- Page Count
- 560 pages
- Basic Books