Many years ago, I learned from one of our diplomats in China that one of the principal Chinese curses heaped upon an enemy is, ‘May you live in an interesting age.’ Austen Chamberlain


The great upheaval : America and the birth of the modern world, 1788-1800    New York : HarperCollins, c 2007 Jay Winik United States History Constitutional period, 1789-1809 Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xx, 659 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.     Includes bibliographical references (p. [583]-635) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

It is an era that redefined history. As the 1790s began, a fragile America teetered on the brink of oblivion, Russia towered as a vast imperial power, and France plunged into revolution. But in contrast to the way conventional histories tell it, none of these remarkable events occurred in isolation.

In The Great Upheaval, historian Winik offers his conjectures as to how their fates combined in one extraordinary moment to change the course of civilization. In this drama, Winik offers his narrative to the cold, dark battlefields and deadly clashes of ideologies that defined this age. Here is a savage world war, the toppling of a dynasty, and an America struggling to survive at home and abroad.

Here is the first modern holy war between Islam and a resurgent Christian empire. And here is a cast of large characters to walk upon the world stage: Washington and Jefferson, Louis XVI and Robespierre, Catherine the Great, Adams, Napoleon, and Selim III. With echoes for understanding the international chaos that confronts the globe today, we see them all fighting desperately for the ideals they believed in, whether man-made democracy or divinely inspired autocracy, whether republicanism or muslim law.

The Great Upheaval vividly depicts an arc of revolutionary fervor stretching from Philadelphia and Paris to St. Petersburg and Cairo — with fateful results.  Winik’s portrait of this tumultuous decade may enhance the way the reader sees America’s beginnings and the world.

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