Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke by Richard Bourke

This is a lengthy, thorough, well-written and impressive achievement of a book. Richard Bourke’s greatest force lies maybe in the fact that he takes Burke seriously, and that he tries to re-construct the coherence behind his political thinking (from the advocate of the American rebellion to the defender of the Indians’ rights against Hastings and the East India Company to the counter-revolutionary author of the Reflections on the Revolution of France) and in so doing provides us with a heretofore missing insight into the mind of what was perhaps the greatest political thinker of his generation. Bourke’s bibliography is extensive and seemingly exhaustive.

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Insurrection: The British Experience 1795-1803 by Roger Wells

This impressive book is one of the two (!) that came out of Roger Wells’s PhD in the early 1980. Its re-edition was most necessary as it is a fountain of knowledge on Britain in the 1790s.

Wells wants to challenge the assumption that Britain did not experience a revolution because public opinion, or the ‘masses’, were not disaffected and remained loyal in the late 18th century.

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Wolfe Tone (2nd edition) by Marianne Elliott

In proposing a biography of the most famous Irish revolutionary, Theobald Wolfe Tone, Marianne Elliott displays her formidable research skills, and succeeds in proposing an account of the man far from the nationalist legend that grew up in the 19th century. However, she does not really replace the man in his late 18th-century context. In this regard, her biography of Tone is less satisfying than her seminal Partners in Revolution.

Why is it so?

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Re-Imagining Democracy in the Age of Revolutions: America, France, Britain, Ireland, 1750-1850, by Joanna Innes & Mark Philp (eds)

Joanna Innes, Mark Philp, Re-inventing Democracy in the Age of Revolutions: America, France, Britain, Ireland, 1750-1850, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013.

This an important book on the origins of our modern democracies. The title says it all: democracy was re-imagined during the Age of Revolutions in the Atlantic world. National contexts interacted with the Atlantic dynamics of revolutions and republicanism — whether it was embraced or fought — to produce a new political regime, which then became a defining feature of the 19th century.

The approach is commendable: three authors explore one country, two at the beginning and at the end of the period, and then one reviews the entire period. The United States, France, Great Britain and Ireland are thus explored. The concluding chapter « Synergies » tries to draw out conclusions.
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The Men of No Property: Irish Radicals and Popular Politics in the late Eighteenth Century by Jim Smyth

Jim Smyth, The Men of No Property: Irish Radicals and Popular Politics in the late Eighteenth Century, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke & London, 1992, 251 p.

In writing about the radical politics and their grip on the lower classes of Ireland in the 1790s, Jim Smyth has delivered a seminal, if somehow unfinished, book. Continuer la lecture