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The New Regime - Transformations of the French Civic Order, 1789-1820s


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Isser Woloch is the Moore Collegiate Professor Emeritus at Columbia University. His publications include The New Regime: Transformations of the French Civic Order, 1789-1820s, which won the Leo Gershoy Award of the American Historical Association. Louis-Leopold Boilly (b. 1761 - d.1845) was a French painter and draftsman known for his portraits and depictions of middle-class social life.


Based largely on archival sources, Columbia University history professor Woloch's engrossing study takes a fresh look at the civic order that supplanted France's monarchy in the wake of the Revolution. The new republic's ambitious programs for universal elementary education and public assistance for the poor and elderly, though crippled by hyperinflation in the mid-1790s, nevertheless became part of the nation's civic agenda, shows Woloch. The introduction of trial by jury and other legal reforms aimed to make justice direct and inexpensive. The new regime's overriding concern was to gain control over the countryside, which it did by empowering popularly mandated village oligarchies. Despite widespread draft evasion, Napoleon Bonaparte's obsession with imposing military conscription during a time of relative tranquility paved the way for Imperial France's extravagant military campaigns. If debates over welfare entitlements, campaigns to aid the homeless and anger at corrupt, do-nothing politicians sound like today's headlines, they are all here, in a penetrating glimpse of the dawn of the modern age. Photos. (Jan.)

Woloch (history, Columbia Univ.) has written a richly detailed and sweeping study of what he calls the new ``civic order'' that emerged in France in the aftermath of the great revolution of 1789. Using tables, maps, and photographs, and relying heavily on archival sources, Woloch describes the process of state building, i.e., the creation of a new administrative state with uniform and centralizing structures. Organizing his material topically, he includes a discussion of changing developments in the areas of primary education, poor relief, political participation and the electoral process, the legal profession and court system, village organization and administration, and the military system. He examines the ironies and conflicts between the revolutionary aspirations and the Napoleonic dictatorship. Specialists in French history will value this important book.-- Marie Marmo Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., N.J.

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