Summary and Info
Sperber's book is impeccable as a bird's eye view of the 1848 revolutions. It is probably the most up-to-date general work on the subject. The book has considerable background on the restoration or `pre-March' period, without which the events of 1848 are meaningless. And it marries social and economic with political history, providing a coherent narrative (or narratives) alongside anecdotes of revolutionary experience and a description of the revolutions at ground level. Finally, Sperber provides a chronology, something which, useful in most history books, is essential to follow the tumultuous flow of 1848-49.
That said, I was mildly disappointed that this remains a recycling of the same used, mainstream views (after all, the book belongs to the New Approaches to European History collection). Because the revolutions were seen as a major missed opportunity by guilt-ridden German historians, and because of the weight of Marxist writing (the Communist Manifesto was issued in 1848 - you may know that already) portraying the radicals as the only `true' revolutionaries, 1848 has long been the subject of a dominantly leftist reading. This reading contains limited consideration of the revolutions as an originally liberal movement, or of the socially conservative dimension of the nationalist programs, and it attributes a debatable continuity between these and the second-round, radical uprisings.
Apologies if this is long-winded. I know of no general work that takes a less pro-radical angle. For Prussia and Austria-Hungary, Christopher Clark (The Iron Kingdom 1600-1947) and C.A. Macartney (The Habsburg Empire 1790-1918) respectively have good chapters on the subject, and Ginsborg is worth reading on Manin and the Venetian exotica.
More About the Author
Jonathan Sperber (born 1952) is an American professor at the University of Missouri and author of modern European History.
Review and Comments
Rate the Book
The European Revolutions, 1848-1851 0 out of 5 stars based on 0 ratings.