1688: The First Modern Revolution (The Lewis Walpole Series in Eighteenth-Century Culture and History)

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9780300115475: 1688: The First Modern Revolution (The Lewis Walpole Series in Eighteenth-Century Culture and History)

For two hundred years historians have viewed England’s Glorious Revolution of 1688–1689 as an un-revolutionary revolution—bloodless, consensual, aristocratic, and above all, sensible. In this brilliant new interpretation Steve Pincus refutes this traditional view.

By expanding the interpretive lens to include a broader geographical and chronological frame, Pincus demonstrates that England’s revolution was a European event, that it took place over a number of years, not months, and that it had repercussions in India, North America, the West Indies, and throughout continental Europe. His rich historical narrative, based on masses of new archival research, traces the transformation of English foreign policy, religious culture, and political economy that, he argues, was the intended consequence of the revolutionaries of 1688–1689.

James II developed a modernization program that emphasized centralized control, repression of dissidents, and territorial empire. The revolutionaries, by contrast, took advantage of the new economic possibilities to create a bureaucratic but participatory state. The postrevolutionary English state emphasized its ideological break with the past and envisioned itself as continuing to evolve. All of this, argues Pincus, makes the Glorious Revolution—not the French Revolution—the first truly modern revolution. This wide-ranging book reenvisions the nature of the Glorious Revolution and of revolutions in general, the causes and consequences of commercialization, the nature of liberalism, and ultimately the origins and contours of modernity itself.

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About the Author:

Steve Pincus is professor of history at Yale University. He is the author of Protestantism and Patriotism and England's Glorious Revolution. He lives in New Haven, CT.

Review:

"[A]n important, fresh, and imaginative work of scholarship. . . . It will have recast the origins of modern England as well as the history of the revolution of 1688."—Bernard Bailyn, New York Review of Books
(Bernard Bailyn New York Review of Books)

“Mr. Pincus’s cogently argued account of what really happened during England’s revolution destroys many comforting notions that have prevailed for more than 200 years.... It leaves the reader with something much more exciting: a new understanding of the origins of the modern, liberal state.”--Economist

(Economist 2009-10-17)

"Utterly extraordinary."—Don Herzog, University of Michigan (Don Herzog)

“We all know that the year 1688 is a milestone in England's history; now, thanks to Steve Pincus, the book 1688 will be a milestone in its historiography.  Pincus transforms what once seemed a peaceful compromise among agreeable aristocrats into a fractious and all-encompassing crisis, the ‘first modern revolution.’ Provocative, erudite, and accessible, 1688 is a must read for anyone interested in seventeenth-century Europe and its possessions.”—Cynthia Herrup, University of Southern California
(Cynthia Herrup)

"In this remarkable work of scholarship, vast in scope and profound in its implications, Pincus challenges Macaulay and the orthodox view that the Glorious Revolution was moderate, peaceful, and conservative, and reveals a violent transformational event that revolutionized England's state, church, and political economy, and introduced political modernity."—Bernard Bailyn, Harvard University (Bernard Bailyn)

"A radical interpretation of a radical revolution.  Steve Pincus's brilliantly researched account of the extraordinary events of the 1680s and 1690s mounts an insuperable challenge to the comfortable view that the Glorious Revolution was another instance of British consensus politics, pragmatism, and common sense.  1688 recaptures the revolutionary nature of the Glorious Revolution and its far-reaching and interconnected conflicts over foreign policy, political economy, religion, and the nature of the modern state."—John Brewer, California Institute of Technology (John Brewer)

“A magnificent, fully documented, very well written study of how the first thorough-going modern revolution was achieved with effort and against substantial obstacles over several years.  It was bloody and popular, not merely a palace coup achieved with little loss of life, as is commonly held.  Taking a broader chronological view and considering more aspects of society than previous historians, Pincus convincingly shows how England had become a commercial society by the 1680s, and the race was on to harness new wealth—a race between the absolutist modernizing vision of James II and the more tolerant and liberty-minded vision of his opponents.  What emerged was the first modern state, with independent financial institutions and a strong sense of national and civil, as opposed to confessional, interest.  The triumph of William III and his supporters was a conscious re-ordering of the place of the three kingdoms on the European and world stage.  Pincus's commitment to vigorous argument (in which he overturns many received views; his definition of revolution itself is bracingly refreshing) makes this book exciting reading, and will raise fascinated interest in the late 17th-century for many years to come.  For anyone interested in modern liberal society, its origins, and why it is worth defending, this book is indispensable.”—Nigel Smith, Princeton University
(Nigel Smith)

Bronze Medal winner for the 2010 Independent Publishers Book Awards in the History Category (Independent Publisher)

"Meticulously researched and deftly written" —Andrew Stuttaford, National Review (Andrew Stuttaford National Review 2009-01-01)

Honorable Mention in the Non-Fiction category of the 2009 New England Book Festival sponsored by the Larimar St. Croix Writers Colony, The Hollywood Creative Directory; eDivvy, Shopanista and Westside Websites (New England Book Festival 2009-12-01)

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