Synopses & Reviews
In the year 1800, almost everyone lived very much as their ancestors had, going back countless generations. In the countryside, illiterate peasants?the majority of the population?still scratched out a living from the soil, while in the cities, merchants hawked their wares in open-air market stalls and nobles led lives of opulent leisure. Yet, everywhere there were unmistakable signs that all of this would soon change forever. Spread by France?s seemingly invincible citizens? army, the seeds of republicanism had been planted throughout Europe. In the Americas, the United States had proved to the world the feasibility of a government of, by, and for the people, and Mexico was threatening to follow its lead. And while it still took up to four months for an official dispatch to travel from London to Calcutta, Europe?s leading nations, France and England, had established global empire-building strategies. In the year 1800, the world suddenly found itself enmeshed in a web of mercantilism, war, and political intrigue, out of which a new world?our world?was struggling to be born.
In this compelling narrative renown- ed historian Olivier Bernier provides us with a riveting chronicle of that time, so vastly different from our own yet so pregnant with meaning for us as we embark upon a new century. From Europe?s bloodstained landscape to the prosperous ports and homesteads of a nascent United States, from the Spanish dominions of Central and South America to the slave trading posts of Africa?s Gold Coast and the lavish interiors of China?s Forbidden City, Bernier takes us on a dizzying journey around the world, providing a finely textured portrait of civilization at the dawn of the modern era.
Bringing all of his talents as a historian and a first-rate storyteller to bear, Bernier takes us inside the courts and parliaments of the major powers to listen in on the political discourse of the day. He leads us into the boudoirs and ballrooms of the rich, the cramped homes of the middle class, and the hovels of the poor to provide an intimate glimpse of the private lives of the first modern men and women. And he explores the seminal works of such masters as Beethoven, Goethe, David, and Hokusai to shed new light on the revolutionary trends that were taking shape in the arts, architecture, science, and philosophy.
A spellbinding account of one of the most momentous chapters in the story of civilization, The World in 1800 is a singular achievement by a premier historian and an irresistible read for scholars and history buffs alike.
"Olivier Bernier?s richly detailed, engaging, and elegant book offers a splendid refresher course on a pivotal moment in world history?the dawn of the modern era."—Francine du Plessix Gray
"...for the first time ever, the world was becoming one, united by war and by the survival of that most ancient of evils, slavery. Already during the Seven Years? War, from 1756 to 1763, fighting had ranged across the continents and across the oceans; but it had been disorganized and relatively brief, a series of spasms rather than a new sense of connection. The wars of the French Revolution, from 1792 to 1815, changed all that. Now the leading nations?France and Great Britain particularly?had worldwide strategies. What happened in Rio, Cairo, Calcutta, or Cape Town mattered to the governments in Paris and London; and each movement of the adversaries caused consequences thousands of miles away."—From the Introduction
Bernier provides us with a riveting chronicle of that time, so vastly different from our own yet so pregnant with meaning for us as we embark upon a new century. From Europe?s bloodstained landscape to the prosperous ports and homesteads of a nascent United States, from the Spanish dominions of Central and South America to the slave trading posts of Africa?s Gold Coast and the lavish interiors of China?s Forbidden City, Bernier takes us on a dizzying journey around the world, providing a finely textured portrait of civilization at the dawn of the modern era.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 433-435) and index.
About the Author
Olivier Bernier was born in the United States of French parents and was educated in Paris and at Harvard and the Institut of Fine Arts at New York University. He is the author of several critically acclaimed histories, including Fireworks at Dusk: Paris in the Thirties; Words of Fire, Deeds of Blood: The Mob, the Monarchy, and the French Revolution; and Louis XIV: A Royal Life. He has also taught art history and is widely acclaimed for his lectures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Two Worlds, One World.
A Very Great Change.
All the Pleasures of Life.
Great Britain and France.
Eastern Europe: Dealing with France.
Quasi-War and Dangerous Aliens.
A Vast New Country.
The Spirit of 1800.
New Spain, Old Habits.
Autonomy or Independence?
Peru and Brazil.
The Center of the World.
A Civilized Empire.
India: The Invention of an Empire.
The Middle East: The Ottoman Empire.
So Close, So Far.