POLITICAL AND SOCIAL UPHEAVAL, 1832-1852 by William L. Langer


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Filling a gap in the comprehensive Rise of Modern Europe series, this volume deals with two decades in which elitist liberal reform efforts gave way to radical, mass-based movements, issuing in the many revolutions of 1848. Professor Langer, an elder statesman of European history, focuses primarily on sociopolitical developments as illuminated by salient facts from economic and intellectual history. On the major issues, one feels that he underemphasizes the importance of business cycles, low wages, and exploitation of women and children in analyzing the causes of the era's growing ""pauperism,"" for which he blames population increase. The stress on the workers' misery and anger usefully corrects common notions about the role of middle class intellectuals in masterminding the risings; but the author gives so little attention to rural conservatism that the uninformed reader will be confused by the swiftness with which the revolutions were suppressed or even--as in France--voted down by universal suffrage. In a more general way, the treatment shows the usual weaknesses of a survey: Marx analyzed in a few pages; the era's cultural life--from scientific advance to religious movements--summarized in two brief and shallow chapters. Still, in the tradition of the series (of which Langer is general editor) this is a useful and competent work, and will adequately serve the college history student for whom it is intended.

Pub Date: Aug. 27th, 1969
Publisher: Harper & Row