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Revolting times: The French Revolution: From Enlightenment to Tyranny, reviewed by Ian Davidson

Books | August Issue

Do we live in pre-revolutionary times, when the long-established order of ancient nations, even our own, totters under the pressure of events towards impotent disorder and collapse? Some version of an Anglo-American sheet anchor in world affairs has been widely taken for granted for so long. But, in Donald Trump, a narcissistic and unstable president beyond the imaginings of dystopian fiction has been installed in the White House. Britain’s departure from the EU has been willed without the visible means to achieve it. Theresa May’s clumsy attempt at statecraft has backfired at the polls and no less a figure than the Shadow Chancellor has demanded street agitation to remove her. Add some random Islamist murders and the highly-avoidable fire that gutted Grenfell Tower to a febrile public mood, and the situation looks distinctly menacing. Only a year ago, reading Ian Davidson’s short, admirably accessible volume on the French Revolution of...

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