It is an era that redefined history. As the 1790s began, a fragile America teetered on the brink of oblivion, Russia towered as a vast imperial power, and France plunged into revolution. But in contrast to the way conventional histories tell it, none of these remarkable events occurred in isolation. Now, for the first time, in The Great Upheaval, acclaimed historian Jay Winik masterfully illuminates how their fates combined in one extraordinary moment to change the course of civilization.
In this sweeping, magisterial drama, Winik brings his vast, meticulous research and narrative genius to the cold, dark battlefields and deadly clashes of ideologies that defined this age. Here is a savage world war, the top-pling of a great dynasty, and an America struggling to survive at home and abroad. Here, too, is the first modern holy war between Islam and a resurgent Christian empire. And here is the richest cast of characters to walk upon the world stage: Washington and Jefferson, Louis XVI and Robespierre, Catherine the Great, Adams, Napoleon, and Selim III. With powerful echoes for understanding the international chaos that confronts the globe today, we see them all fighting desperately for the ideals they believed in, whether man-made democracy or divinely inspired autocracy, whether republicanism or Allah's law.
Exquisitely written and utterly compelling, The Great Upheaval vividly depicts an arc of revolutionary fervor stretching from Philadelphia and Paris to St. Petersburg and Cairo--with fateful results. A landmark in historical literature, Winik's gripping, epic portrait of this tumultuous decade will forever transform the way we see America's beginnings and our world.
The years 1788 to 1800 must be numbered among the most tumultuous in history, as bestselling author Winik (April 1865) magnificently demonstrates in this aptly titled book. The nascent United States, tormented by three rebellions of its own, tottered as France descended into bloody terror and imperial Russia fought the Ottomans. Republicanism, liberalism, democracy, nationalism, as well as authoritarianism: all these potent ideologies, whose effects remain with us, sprouted from this fertile soil.The emphasis on Russian and French affairs marks Winik as being in the forefront of a growing campaign to globalize America's national history: to view the larger age and frame the story as one continuous, interlocking narrative rather than to focus myopically on events in the United States. The world then was far more interconnected than we realize, Winik writes. [G]reat nations and leaders were acutely conscious of one another.In this version, Washington, Jefferson and Adams no longer receive exclusive star billing, but instead share the stage with such greats as the Empress Catherine, the doomed Louis XVI, Robespierre, Napoleon and Kosciuszko. If there is a criticism to be made of this approach, it is that Winik has greatly underplayed the importance of Britain in the struggle for global mastery and the quest for international order.Buttressed by impeccable research, vividly narrated and deftly organized, this is popular history of the highest order and is sure to create a stir in the fall market. 16 pages of b&w photos, 3 maps. (Sept. 11)
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September 10, 2007
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