Vendor- Clark, Christopher
Revolutionary Spring: Europe Aflame and the Fight for a New World, 1848-1849
As history, the uprisings of 1848 have long been overshadowed by the French Revolution of 1789 and the Russian revolutions of the early twentieth century. And yet in 1848 nearly all of Europe was aflame with conflict. Parallel political tumults spread like brush fire across the entire continent, leading to significant changes that continue to shape our world today. These battles for the future were fought with one eye kept squarely on the past: The men and women of 1848 saw the urgent challenges of their world as shaped profoundly by the past, and saw themselves as inheritors of a revolutionary tradition.
Celebrated Cambridge historian Christopher Clark describes 1848 as “the particle collision chamber at the center of the European nineteenth century,” a moment when political movements and ideas—from socialism and democratic radicalism to liberalism, nationalism, corporatism, and conservatism—were tested and transformed. The insurgents asked questions that sound modern to our ears: What happens when demands for political or economic liberty conflict with demands for social rights? How do we reconcile representative and direct forms of democracy? How is capitalism connected to social inequality? The revolutions of 1848 were short-lived, but their impact on public life and political thought throughout Europe and beyond has been profound.
Meticulously researched, elegantly written, and filled with a cast of charismatic figures, including the social theorist Alexis de Tocqueville, the writer George Sand, and the troubled priest Félicité de Lamennais, who struggled to reconcile his faith with politics, Revolutionary Spring offers a new understanding of 1848 that suggests chilling parallels to our present moment. “Looking back at the revolutions from the end of the first quarter of the twenty-first century, it is impossible not to be struck by the resonances,” Clark writes. “If a revolution is coming for us, it may look something like 1848.”
Hardcover, June 13th 2023