This study explores the egalitarian policies pursued in the provinces during the radical phase of the French Revolution, but moves away from the habit of looking at such issues in terms of the Terror alone. It challenges revisionist readings of Jacobinism that dwell on its totalitarian potential or portray it as dangerously utopian. The mainstream Jacobin agenda emphasised 'fair shares' and equal opportunities for all in a private ownership market economy. It sought to achieve social justice without jeopardising human rights and tended thus to complement, rather than undermine, the liberal, individualist programme of the Revolution. The book stresses the relevance of the 'Enlightenment legacy', the close affinity between Girondins and Montagnards, the key role played by many lesser-known figures and the moral ascendancy of Robespierre. It reassesses the basic social and economic issues at stake in the Revolution, which cannot be understood solely in terms of political discourse.
'... a forceful and healthy antidote to current orthodoxy, whose impact is all the more impressive for being based on solid archival work'. Economic History Review ' ... [a] superbly written and widely researched study ... should be essential reading for scholars of the Revolution'. English Historical Review