Books: Politics of the Impossible

THE AGE OF THE DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION: THE STRUGGLE by R. R. Palmer. 584 pages. Princeton. $10.

Ever since the French Revolution of ficially ended in 1794, historians have asked whether it enlarged or diminished the sum of human freedom. Joining the debate with revolutionary fervor, Robert Roswell Palmer, a specialist in 18th century France who is on the faculty of St. Louis' Washington University, plumps unequivocally for the Revolution, charging that its detractors have besmirched an "inevitable" and largely admirable chapter of history.

Palmer's book is a sequel to The Challenge, which covered the years 1760-92, and is as conscientiously documented and skillfully...

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