Patriots and Liberators: Revolution in the Netherlands, 1780-1813Paperback
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- Publisher: HarperPerennial
- Format: Paperback | 768 pages
- Dimensions: 128mm x 194mm x 44mm | 621g
- Publication date: 10 January 1998
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0006861563
- ISBN 13: 9780006861560
- Illustrations note: Ill.M.
- Sales rank: 380,649
A reissue of Simon Schama's landmark study of the Netherlands from 1780-1813, this is a tale of a once-powerful nation's desparate struggle to survive the treacheries and brutality of European war and politics. Between 1780 and 1813 the Dutch Republic - a country once rich enough to be called the cash till of Europe and powerful enough to make war with England - was stripped of its colonies, invaded by its enemies, driven to the edge of bankruptcy, and, finally, reduced to becoming an appendage of the French empire - an appendage not even the French seemed to value overmuch. Out of these events Simon Schama has constructed a gripping chronicle of revolution and privateering, constitutions and coups, in a tiny nation desperately struggling to stay afloat in a sea of geopolitics. Like his classics 'The Embarrassment of Riches' and 'Citizens', 'Patriots and Liberators' combines a mastery of historical sources with an unabashed delight in narrative. The result confirms Schama as a historian in the finest tradition - one whose study of the past reveals volumes about the present. This is one of our most revered historians' greatest works, and this new Perennial edition will reintroduce his genius to a new generation of readers.
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Simon Schama is University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University. Patriots and Liberators' has been awarded with the Wolfson Prize for History. He is the author of 'The Embarrassment of Riches', 'Citizens' which won the 1990 NCR book award for non-fiction, 'Dead Certainties', 'Landscape and Memory' which won the W H Smith Literary Award in 1995, and 'Rembrandt's Eyes' (1999). He is also the author of the monumental 'History of Britain' published in three volumes. He was art critic of the 'New Yorker' from 1995 to 1998 and was made CBE in the 2001 New Year's Honours list.
'An outstanding work of historical scholarship...Simon Schama writes brilliantly. He can bring a character alive in a sentence...This powerful book reads with the ease of a novel. Every page glitters with intelligence and perception. In every way "Patriots and Liberators" is an extraordinary achievement.' J.H. Plumb 'This remarkable book is more than a revision, it is a revelation.' A.J.P. Taylor, Observer 'A dramatic story, full of pathos and true comedy. If any book may be said to inhale without sententiousness the clear, calm and steadying air of a European ideal, this is it.' Michael Ratcliffe, The Times 'Schama's book is written in the grand manner, its sweep is as impressive as its erudition and the constant brilliance of its style. He gives the Dutch revolution back to the people to whom it belonged - the Dutch.' Economist
The Netherlands was more than a pawn of the French during this period, argues an Oxford and Cambridge student of J. H. Plumb in this broad, profuse, yet tightly organized work; the Dutch strove mightily for independence until finally crushed by Napoleonic designs. Holland's Batavian Republic of 1797, born when the French revolutionary army drove the British, Austrians, and Prussians out of Holland, gave new life to the "Patriot" faction that had been crushed a decade earlier, after which - as Schama documents - the country suffered economic collapse to the point of gruesome epidemics. The spokesmen of a national renaissance had looked toward the American Revolution as the "holy sun" of progress; when the French liberated them, however, there developed "the classic irreconcilability within a revolution of its two primary constituents - freedom and power." Political and intellectual ferment mounted in the Free Corps and reading societies, but disputes multipled over taxation, religion, and minority aspirations. And leadership was thin, except for a few men like Pieter Paulus, who died tragically in 1796 at the age of 42. Finally Napoleon forced a Directorate on the divided country and installed his brother Louis as regent, exacting hundreds of millions of guilders for the empire. Above all, Schama blames French developments for the failure of Dutch nationalism, while limiting his discussion of the British role. But the book gives a powerful sense of civil freedom, educational and legal reforms, and sweeping excitement in the Netherlands between the French grant of "liberty on the points of bayonets" and the Napoleonic clampdown, itself cast in an acute light through Schama's material on the strain of simultaneously promoting modernization and financing continental wars. It is always good news when a traditional subject of footnotes is made into a major, rewarding study; Schama's final judgments will draw challenge, while his demonstration that the spirit of the 17th-century Dutch Golden Age survived in revolutionary form is an important (and delightfully written) contribution. (Kirkus Reviews)