The People's Armies


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Richard Cobb; Translated by Marianne Elliott

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Price: $125.00
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In this classic book, the famed historian Richard Cobb describes the Armées Révolutionnaires of eighteenth-century France and their clashes with the anti-revolutionary rural populace. In so doing, he provides important insights into the social and administrative history of the French Revolution. First published in France and now translated into English by Marianne Elliott, The People’s Armies has had a profound influence on the study of the French Revolution and is still unsurpassed as a history of an important institution of the period of Revolutionary government in France.

"It breathes the spirit of its age."—Paul Johnson, The Sunday Telegraph 






"Cobb brings this anarchic hodgepodgee to life as no army has lived before. . . . It is his own pleasure and his own excitement that Cobb communicates in the massive scholarship of The People's Armies, or in his more picaresque excursions. He is never remote, never detached, never pedantic, but visual, tactile, sensual. He is an artist, and quite right. 'For history is not a science, nor should it be written by teams. We can leave that to surgery. The writing of history is one of the fullest and most rewarding experiences of individual personality.' Sometimes, as with a book by Cobb, the reading of history can be that, too."—Eugen  Weber, New Republic

"Drawing on government, military, police, municipal and revolutionary archives he brings to life the characters who comprised the 'Revolutionaries'. In amazing detail, he uncovers the social backgrounds, political affiliations, ideals, motivations and even the personality traits of those the eighteenth-century historian Thomas Carlyle called, 'the Devils Pack'. Cobb's work must rank with those of Rude, Soboul and a few others who have researched the popular base of the French revolutionary movement revealing the total dedication and heroic self-sacrifice of those contemptuously termed 'the mob'.—Bernard Franks, Workers Press

"A godsend for Revolutionary scholars."—Library Journal

"A very distinctive book."—Colin Lucas, Times Higher Education Supplement

"An astonishing achievement. . . . The crowning achievement of a noble career."—Geoffrey Wheatcroft, Spectator

"A landmark in historical writing about the revolution."—Norman Stone, The Sunday Times

"This deserve[s] to be in the hands of everyone who cares about history as a stimulating, entertaining, living evocation of the past."—Tim Blanning, The Times (London)

"One of the best and most disconcerting history books I have ever read, a vivid and brilliantly written study of what Carlyle called the Devil's Pack baying through France at the crisis of revolution, war and civil war in Year II of the First French Republic, autumn, 1793 to spring, 1794."—Gwyn A. Williams, The Guardian

"[A] great work on the revolutionary popular armies of the French Revolution. . . . An indispensable book."—Pam Gems, The Listener

"[Cobb is] the supreme master of the archival sources of the Revolution. . . . Cobb make[s] a vivid analysis of the fears, aspirations and motivation of the sans-culotte movement."—John McManners, History Today

"The Terror at the grassroots, by the greatest English historian of the French Revolution."—The Guardian

"Cobb's vivid panorama takes the reader closer to the realities and complexities of the terror on the ground."—Clive Emsley, Society for the Study of Labour History Bulletin

"Les Armées révolutionnaires rapidly attained legendary status for its mastery of archival evidence and imaginative recreation of the popular force which attempted to export the Revolution to the French provinces."—James F. McMillan, Times Literary Supplement

"The translation of Les armées révolutionnaires has allowed reconsideration—and recelebration—of [Cobb's] remarkable achievement. A work of legendary scope and proportions, assuming in French Revolutionary studies almost mythic status, not least because written in such idiomatic French, its welcome but belated appearance in almost equally vivid English makes it happily accessible to a wider public. . . . [A] rewarding work."—W. Scott, French History
ISBN: 9780300027280
Publication Date: September 10, 1987
776 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4