Review: How the West was won — and lost — by women: A new history revises the record to account for the role of women in the French Revolution.
In her new book, Elizabeth Euville, a historian with the École Nationale des Chartes, uses primary and secondary sources to offer a new, comprehensive history of Europe after the French Revolution. The book is entitled The West: A New History, and, in a short prologue, it offers the following explanation of its purpose:
In this second volume of my History of European Integration: From the French Revolution to the end of the cold war, I want to offer a revised history that puts the question of the West (or the West’s West) back into the center of the history of Europe at a moment when this issue is most urgent — and most contested. It is not by accident that Europe’s history of the period before and after the French Revolution is dominated by events in, or with, the West, the ‘first empire’ of the West, the ‘second empire,’ the ‘third empire’ of the West, or the ‘fourth empire’ of the West. My purpose is to revise the history of Europe for the West, and to offer a new story of how that West came to be ‘there’ in Europe for Europeans, and of how it became the West that it is in the present.
To the extent that the French Revolution was the most revolutionary event in history, if not all history, from the perspective of Western civilization, it can be understood in light of that revolution’s impact on the West. But if the West is to serve human history as the West ought to serve itself — and the West was, in the end, the victim of a process that we will call ‘the West’s West’ — it must also tell a new, more complex story. This new history is in two parts. First, Euville explains how the United States was a driving force behind the Westernization of Europe and vice versa. Second, it offers a broader, more complex account of ‘the West’ itself in light of its historical relationship with this ‘first empire,’ its ‘second empire,’ its ‘third empire,’ and its ‘fourth empire.’
But first let us begin with how Western civilization came to be