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The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook

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The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook
Edited by Philip G. Dwyer and Peter McPhee. (Routledge, London and New York: 2002. Pg. xxii, 213. Illustrated) ISBN: 0-415-19908-5.

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - January 21, 2003

Sourcebooks are phenomenal tools for students doing basic research in a particular field. The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook, edited by Philip G. Dwyer and Peter McPhee, is a useful and well-organized sourcebook on the French Revolution and Napoleon. This book is an anthology primary texts on this period, all in English tranlation. Texts included range from personal papers to state documents such as the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizens of 1789.

The documents that comprise the backbone of this book serve to explain the causes leading up to the French Revolution, in addition to the events that occurred during the revolution, and those immediately and afterwards. They look not only at the historical/political facets of these events, but also how they affected people on a personal level. These documents also enable the reader to explore the repercussions that occurred as a result of the revolution. The documents also look at the wider implications of the revolution in regard to world politics.

This sourcebook includes introductory passages that provide background information on the various topics addressed in the book. In addition, each document is accompanied by commentary by the book's editors, plus source information on where the document was obtained. French terms used in the text, such as sans-culottes, fédérés, menu peuple, and jeunesse dorée, are fully explained.

This sourcebook is an ideal research tool. It is also perfect for use in undergraduate level history courses when used in conjunction with other texts. Alone it is insufficient to fully provide students with a firm grasp of the major issues surrounding the French Revolution and Napoleon's reign. However, when combined with a comprehensive history of the period, this sourcebook will serve to bring French history to life through the words of the people who lived the events being studied.

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