The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 55, July 1951 - April, 1952

Book Reviews

Finally, the University of Illinois Press is to be congratulated
on the price of this volume in view of its size, the page makeup,
quality of paper, numerous photographs and sketches, and tables
of data. While the reviewer is increasingly prejudiced against
de luxe editions with the consequent high costs involved, Life
in a Mexican Village is a credit to the publisher as well as the
author.
CHARLES H. LANGE
The University of Texas
A Documentary Survey of the French Revolution. By John Hall
Stewart. New York (Macmillan Company), 1951. Pp. 794.
$6.oo.
This new documentary survey of the French Revolution sup-
plies a deficiency in modern historical textbooks-if one believes
with the author that the study of original sources is warranted
when the subject matter still presents the controversial aspect of
a polemic.
In a brief introduction the author emphasizes the essentially
European backgrounds to the crisis-embedded in that first re-
action against tradition which passes under the name of "Benevo-
lent Despotism." Reviewing the ancien regime in France, the
crux of its paradox and the reality of the revolutionary crisis are
revealed, for the commercial prosperity of the middle class was
not only in contradiction to the financial bankruptcy of the
regime but also in disharmony with the social monopoly of the
privileged class. The division, "Intellectual Antecedents," is con-
vincing, more as reflecting the Voltairian character of the age,
rather than in its contribution to the spiritual disintegration of
the ancien regime. The author concedes the point but seeks to
explain the fact of a Voltairian audience and in doing so explains
it away.
The division, "Immediate Antecedents," precipitates us into
the turmoil of events leading to the downfall of the ancien
regime. Marie Antoinette is treated harshly. Could the crisis
have been averted or postponed had Louis XVI and his consort
been "Benevolent Despots" as the author suggests? The question
underestimates not only the force of the explosion but the in-
scrutable force of the circumstances itself.

433

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 55, July 1951 - April, 1952. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101139/. Accessed September 17, 2014.