Monday, October 30, 2006

Congratulations to Howard G. Brown, seen right looking less pleased than he might. Howard is Professor of History at The State University of New York, Binghamton. A proud graduate of the U of S (B.A. Hons, 1985), his new book Ending the French Revolution: Violence, Justice, And Repression from the Terror to Napoleon (University of Virginia Press, 2006) has just been awarded the American Historical Association's 2006 Leo Gershoy Award for the best book in seventeenth and eighteenth-century European history. This puts Howard in very select company indeed: since its inception in 1977 the award has been won by Simon Schama, Robert Darnton, J.H. Elliott, John Beattie, Isser Woloch, and Roy Porter, among others.

What makes Howard's book so valuable is that although for two centuries the early years of the French Revolution have inspired countless democratic movements around the world, little attention has been paid to the problems of violence, justice, and repression between the Reign of Terror and the dictatorship of Napoleon Bonaparte. In Ending the French Revolution, Howard analyzes these years to reveal the true difficulty of founding a liberal democracy in the midst of continual warfare, repeated coups d'├ętat, and endemic civil strife.

And if that sounds like a familiar challenge, you might care to read Howard's op-ed piece in the August 4, 2006 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education, in which he draws striking, and sobering, parallels between the nation-building efforts of the French Directory and those of the Bush Administration. To read it, click here if you have U of S library access.