Becoming a Revolutionary

The Deputies of the French National Assembly and the Emergence of a Revolutionary Culture (17891790)

By (author) Timothy Tackett

Paperback - £33.95

Publication date:

15 January 2006

Length of book:

372 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271028880

Winner of the Leo Gershoy Prize from the American Historical Association, 1998, for the best book in Early Modern European History.

Timothy Tackett’s Becoming a Revolutionary revisits one of the most controversial moments in history: the beginning of the French Revolution. How did it arise? Why did French men and women become revolutionaries? To answer these questions, Tackett focuses on the experiences of the 1200 members of the first French National Assembly. Drawing upon on a wide range of sources, including contemporary letters and diaries, Tackett shows that the deputies were a group of practical men, whose ideas were governed more by concrete subjects than by abstract philosophy. Though it may seem surprising now, most of the deputies were actually in support of the king. Instead of being initiated as a result of a specific ideology founded on Enlightenment principles, the ideas that eventually led to the French Revolution were, instead, a direct result of the actual process of the Assembly.

First published in 1996 and hailed as an “exemplary product of the historian’s craft,” Becoming a Revolutionary is now available in paperback for the first time.

“Narratives abound of France’s first legislature, the Estates General of 1789, which became the Constituent Assembly of 1789–1791. None involve the detailed research that this coherent, collective biography of its total 1,315 deputies represents. Timothy Tackett has combed the public and private archives of France to find over 150 separate collections of deputies’ correspondence. . . . Tackett’s book is essential reading for anyone interested in the origins of that revolutionary France.”

—Emmet Kennedy, American Historical Review