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📙 The European Revolutions, 1848-1851 by Jonathan Sperber — epub download


Sperber's book is impeccable as a bird's eye view of the 1848 revolutions. It is probably the most up-to-date general work on the subject. The book has considerable background on the restoration or `pre-March' period, without which the events of 1848 are meaningless. And it marries social and economic with political history, providing a coherent narrative (or narratives) alongside anecdotes of revolutionary experience and a description of the revolutions at ground level. Finally, Sperber provides a chronology, something which, useful in most history books, is essential to follow the tumultuous flow of 1848-49. That said, I was mildly disappointed that this remains a recycling of the same used, mainstream views (after all, the book belongs to the New Approaches to European History collection). Because the revolutions were seen as a major missed opportunity by guilt-ridden German historians, and because of the weight of Marxist writing (the Communist Manifesto was issued in 1848 - you may know that already) portraying the radicals as the only `true' revolutionaries, 1848 has long been the subject of a dominantly leftist reading. This reading contains limited consideration of the revolutions as an originally liberal movement, or of the socially conservative dimension of the nationalist programs, and it attributes a debatable continuity between these and the second-round, radical uprisings. Apologies if this is long-winded. I know of no general work that takes a less pro-radical angle. For Prussia and Austria-Hungary, Christopher Clark (The Iron Kingdom 1600-1947) and C.A. Macartney (The Habsburg Empire 1790-1918) respectively have good chapters on the subject, and Ginsborg is worth reading on Manin and the Venetian exotica.

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