Books in Brief

The Wind from America, 1778-1781, by Claude Manceron (New York: Simon & Schuster; 584 pp.) In this second volume of the Age of the French Revolution series, first published in 1978, Manceron explores the influence on Europe of both American democratic thought and politics during the American Revolution and early nationalist periods. Manceron, a popular French novelist, eventually abandoned fiction to devote himself to historical works. His writing is cinematic, rapidly shifting focus from one character and situation to another. An example of his narrative and stylistic manner appears in the first paragraph of the first chapter:

April 18, 1778. The night over Whitehaven ends endlessly. The little Westport coast is deep in slumber, and all England with it. America? As far away as the moon. Who between Blackpool and Glasgow could care about the rebels? Who has ever heard of Philadelphia or Saratoga or what’s going on there? All that is the king’s business, and the Lords’. Cumberland peasants and fisherman don’t read gazettes. They don’t know how to read. Their one enemy, from time immemorial, is the Irisher over the way, a hundred miles across the Irish Sea. But for the time being those damned papists are quiet.


When suddenly… ‘Here we go, boys!’ cries out John Paul Jones, ‘commodore’ of the young American Navy.


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