Phantom Terror: The Threat of Revolution and the Repression of Liberty 1789-1848

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9780007282760: Phantom Terror: The Threat of Revolution and the Repression of Liberty 1789-1848

A magnificent and timely examination of an age of fear, subversion, suppression and espionage, Adam Zamoyski explores the attempts of the governments of Europe to police the world in a struggle against obscure forces, seemingly dedicated to the overthrow of civilisation.

The French Revolution and the blood-curdling violence it engendered terrified the ruling and propertied classes of Europe. Unable to grasp how such horrors could have come about, many concluded that it was the result of a devilish conspiracy hatched by Freemasons inspired by the ideas of the Enlightenment with the aim of overthrowing the entire social order, along with the legal and religious principles it stood on. Others traced it back to the Reformation or the Knights Templar and ascribed even more sinister aims to it.

Faced by this apparently occult threat, they resorted to repression on an unprecedented scale, expanding police and spy networks in the process. Napoleon managed to contain the revolutionary elements in France and those parts of Europe he controlled, but while many welcomed this, others saw in him no more than the spawn of the Revolution, propagating its doctrines by other means. After his defeat at Waterloo in 1815, his victors united to maintain the old order, suppress of all opposition, and ferret out of the conspirators whom they believed to be plotting mayhem and murder in the shadows.

In this ground-breaking study best-selling historian Adam Zamoyski exposes their pusillanimous yet cynical recourse to the police spy and the bayonet, which only intensified their own fears and pushed ordinary people towards subversion, building up the pressure of opposition to their rule.

When it came, with the revolutions of 1848, the dreaded cataclysm revealed their fears to have been groundless; the masses stirred into revolt by hunger and oppressive living conditions were leaderless and easily pacified. There never had been any conspiracy. But the police were there to stay, and the paradigm of an order threatened by dark forces is also still with us today. This compelling history, occasionally chilling and often hilarious, tells how the modern state evolved through the expansion of its organs of control, and holds urgent lessons for today.

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A magnificent and timely examination of an age of fear, subversion, suppression and espionage, Adam Zamoyski explores the attempts of the governments of Europe to police the world in a struggle against obscure forces, seemingly dedicated to the overthrow of civilisation.

The advent of the French Revolution confirmed the worst fears of the rulers of Europe – they saw their states as storm-tossed vessels battered by terrible waves coming from every quarter and threatened by horrific monsters from the deep. Rulers' nerves were further unsettled by the voices of the Enlightenment, envisaging improvement only through a radical transformation of existing structures, with undeniable implications for the future role of the monarchy and the Church.

Napoleon's arrival on the European stage intensified these fears, and the changes he wrought across Europe fully justified them. Yet he also brought some comfort to those rulers who managed to survive: he had tamed the revolution in France and the hegemony he exercised over Europe was a kind of guarantee against subversion. Once Napoleon was toppled, the monarchs of Europe took over this role for themselves.

However, the nature of their attempts to impose order were not only ineffectual, they also managed to simultaneously weaken the bases of that order. As counter-productive as anything, for example, was the use of force – reliance on standing armies to maintain order only served to politicize the military and to give potential revolutionaries the opportunity to get their hands on a ready armed force.

The wave of revolutions of 1848 might have embodied the climactic clash that many had come to expect, but it was no Armageddon and revealed the groundlessness of most of their fears. The subversive activity lacked the kind of mass support that rulers had feared. Most interestingly, the sense of a great, ill-defined subversive threat somewhere out there never went away – indeed it lingers on even today in the minds of world leaders.

Review:

‘Vivid, terrifying and often quite funny … an interesting take on 1848 … this superbly drawn story is full of painful allegories’ The Times

‘Splendidly provocative … perceptive and often amusing … full of arresting details and sharp asides … Adam Zamoyski writes like a dancer at a court ball: gracious, patrician, masterful, sure-footed … Phantom Terror is a thumping great pleasure to read … history at its best’ Spectator

‘Scintillating and original’ Economist

‘We know the Napoleonic era well, but the Decades after Napoleon’s fall are often neglected. Adam Zamoyski covers those years, showing how fear of revolution caused the autocrats of Europe to repress freedom on an unprecedented scale’ Simon Sebag Montefiore, Mail on Sunday

‘Zamoyski’s prose is unfailingly sleek’ Literary Review

‘A memorably impressive and important book. ‘Phantom Terror’ is scholarly, well-written and enjoyable, with fascinating insights on almost every page of this tour d’horizon of reactionary Europe in the revolutionary age’ Orlando Figes

‘Both very enjoyable and timely. Elegantly written, its subject matter is the response of governments across Europe to the violent eruption of the French Revolution and its aftermath’ Jeremy Jennings, Standpoint

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Book Description William Collins, U.S.A., 2014. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. The French Revolution and the bloodcurling violence it engendered terrified the ruling and propertied classes of Europe. Unable to grasp how such horrors could have come about, many concluded that they were the result of a devilish conspiracy, hatched by Freemasons, inspired by the ideas of the Enlightenment with the aim of overthrowing the entire social order, along with the legal and religious principles it stood on. Others traced it back to the Reformation or the Knights Templar, and ascribed to it even more sinister aims. Faced by this apparently occult threat, they resorted to repression on an unprecedented scale, expanding police and spy networks in the process. Napoleon managed to contain the revolutionary elements in France and those parts of Europe he controlled, but while many welcomed this, others saw in him no more than the spawn of the Revolution, propagating its doctrines by other means. After his defeat at Waterloo in 1815, the victors united in a Concert of Europe dedicated to the maintenance of the old order, the suppression of all opposition, and the ferreting out of the conspirators whom they believed to be plotting mayhem and murder in the shadows. In this groundbreaking study, bestselling historian Adam Zamoyski exposes how the rulers of Europe resorted to a pusillanimous, yet cynical, use of the police spy and the bayonet, which only intensified their own fears and pushed ordinary people towards subversion, building up the pressure of opposition to their rule. This compelling history, occasionally chilling and often hilarious, tells us a great deal about how the modern state evolved through the expansion of its organs of control, and holds urgent lessons for today. William Collins, Hardcover, 1st Edition, 2014 This is a BRAND NEW book. Bookseller Inventory # 000029

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