The best books about the Age of Revolutions

Who am I?

To an Atlantic historian like me, the era of revolutions is one of the most dramatic historical periods, which erased many of the structures on which the Atlantic world had been built for centuries. It raised many hopes, which were often defeated, but lasting advances were made nonetheless.  


I wrote...

Revolutions in the Atlantic World: A Comparative History

By Wim Klooster,

Book cover of Revolutions in the Atlantic World: A Comparative History

What is my book about?

The first book to make a comparative analysis of the American, French, Haitian, and Spanish American revolutions, which transformed the Atlantic world in half a century. Digging deeply into the structural causes and oppressive environments in which these revolutions occurred, the book debunks the popular myth that the “people” rebelled against a small ruling elite, arguing instead that the revolutions were civil wars in which all classes fought on both sides. Nonetheless, popular mobilization did occur during the revolutions, for example among Blacks and Indians, who often played an important role in the success of the revolutions, even if they were never compensated once new regimes rose to power. Nor was democracy a goal or product of these revolutions, which usually spawned authoritarian polities

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Great Demarcation: The French Revolution and the Invention of Modern Property

Wim Klooster Why did I love this book?

The French revolutionaries not only transformed property, they disentangled it from public power, creating a distinction between a private realm and a public one and between state and society. Blaufarb shows that at stake was much more and much more complex than historians have thought. He argues that without this multiple demarcation, free elections would have been impossible and universal human rights could not have been defined.    

By Rafe Blaufarb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Great Demarcation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What does it mean to own something? What sorts of things can be owned, and what cannot? How does one relinquish ownership? What are the boundaries between private and public property? Over the course of a decade, the French Revolution grappled with these questions. Punctuated by false starts, contingencies, and unexpected results, this process laid the foundations of the Napoleonic Code and modern notions of property.

As Rafe Blaufarb demonstrates in this ambitious work, the French Revolution remade the system of property-holding that had existed in France before 1789. The revolutionary changes aimed at two fundamental goals: the removal of…


Book cover of Resisting Independence

Wim Klooster Why did I love this book?

This is probably the most comprehensive discussion of Loyalism to date. By detailing the Loyalist perspective on the growing crisis in the British empire and the ensuing American Revolution in four cities (Glasgow, Halifax, New York, and Kingston), Jones reveals the Loyalism shared in these places and shows how local issues led to new relationships with the Crown. One element integral to Loyalism was the notion of rights and liberties that British subjects enjoyed.    

By Brad A. Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Resisting Independence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Resisting Independence, Brad A. Jones maps the loyal British Atlantic's reaction to the American Revolution. Through close study of four important British Atlantic port cities-New York City; Kingston, Jamaica; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Glasgow, Scotland-Jones argues that the revolution helped trigger a new understanding of loyalty to the Crown and empire. This compelling account reimagines Loyalism as a shared transatlantic ideology, no less committed to ideas of liberty and freedom than the American cause and not limited to the inhabitants of the thirteen American colonies.

Jones reminds readers that the American Revolution was as much a story of loyalty…


Book cover of Indian and Slave Royalists in the Age of Revolution: Reform, Revolution, and Royalism in the Northern Andes, 1780–1825

Wim Klooster Why did I love this book?

An important and original work that privileges the vantage point of blacks and indigenous people. Historians have often portrayed the royalist side in the Spanish American wars as conservative and backward, but by analyzing the political strategies of nonwhites, this book shows convincingly that their affiliation with the Spanish Crown was a sensible one. 

By Marcela Echeverri,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Indian and Slave Royalists in the Age of Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Royalist Indians and slaves in the northern Andes engaged with the ideas of the Age of Revolution (1780-1825), such as citizenship and freedom. Although generally ignored in recent revolution-centered versions of the Latin American independence processes, their story is an essential part of the history of the period. In Indian and Slave Royalists in the Age of Revolution, Marcela Echeverri draws a picture of the royalist region of Popayan (modern-day Colombia) that reveals deep chronological layers and multiple social and spatial textures. She uses royalism as a lens to rethink the temporal, spatial, and conceptual boundaries that conventionally structure historical…


Book cover of The Bloody Flag: Mutiny in the Age of Atlantic Revolution

Wim Klooster Why did I love this book?

Beautifully written, this book focuses on the many mutinies that took place in the 1790s in the Dutch, English, and French navies. Some of the mutinies were massive and lasted for weeks. They were a consequence of the ever-growing exploitation of sailors as international rivalry increased. English mutineers tried but failed to set up a radical maritime republic. 

By Niklas Frykman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bloody Flag as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The global legacy of mutiny and revolution on the high seas.

Mutiny tore like wildfire through the wooden warships of the age of revolution. While commoners across Europe laid siege to the nobility and enslaved workers put the torch to plantation islands, out on the oceans, naval seamen by the tens of thousands turned their guns on the quarterdeck and overthrew the absolute rule of captains. By the early 1800s, anywhere between one-third and one-half of all naval seamen serving in the North Atlantic had participated in at least one mutiny, many of them in several, and some even on…


Book cover of Waves Across the South: A New History of Revolution and Empire

Wim Klooster Why did I love this book?

The first book to successfully show that the age of revolutions also manifested itself in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. The book also reveals how the British “neutralized” (in what the author calls an “imperial counter-revolt” of "counter-revolution") the age of revolution by coopting concepts of liberty, free trade, reason, and progress. 

By Sujit Sivasundaram,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Waves Across the South as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a story of tides and coastlines, winds and waves, islands and beaches. It is also a retelling of indigenous creativity, agency, and resistance in the face of unprecedented globalization and violence. Waves Across the South shifts the narrative of the Age of Revolutions and the origins of the British Empire; it foregrounds a vast southern zone that ranges from the Arabian Sea and southwest Indian Ocean across to the Bay of Bengal, and onward to the South Pacific and the Tasman Sea. As the empires of the Dutch, French, and especially the British reached across these regions, they…


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Book cover of The Twenty: One Woman's Trek Across Corsica on the GR20 Trail

Marianne C. Bohr Author Of The Twenty: One Woman's Trek Across Corsica on the GR20 Trail

New book alert!

Who am I?

I married my high school sweetheart and travel partner, and followed my own advice to do graduate work, and started my career working for the French National Railroad in New York City, mapping itineraries for travelers to Europe. Travel means the world to me and if I don’t have a trip on the horizon, I feel aimless and untethered. I worked in book publishing for 30 years and dropped out of the corporate rat race to take a gap year abroad. I wrote about our “Senior year abroad” in my first book Gap Year Girl. I returned to the US to teach middle school French and organize student trips to France. 

Marianne's book list on by women about outdoor adventure

What is my book about?

Marianne Bohr and her husband, about to turn sixty, are restless for adventure. They decide on an extended, desolate trek across the French island of Corsica — the GR20, Europe’s toughest long-distance footpath — to challenge what it means to grow old. Part travelogue, part buddy story, part memoir, The Twenty is a journey across a rugged island of stunning beauty little known outside Europe.

From a chubby, non-athletic child, Bohr grew into a fit, athletic person with an “I’ll show them” attitude. But hiking GR20 forces her to transform a lifetime of hard-won achievements into acceptance of her body and its limitations.

The difficult journey across a remote island provides the crucible for exploring what it means to be an aging woman in a youth-focused culture, a physically fit person whose limitations are getting the best of her, and the partner of a husband who is growing old with her. More than a hiking tale, this is a moving story infused with humor about hiking, aging, accepting life’s finite journey, and the intimacy of a long-term marriage—set against the breathtaking beauty of Corsica’s rugged countryside.

By Marianne C. Bohr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Twenty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Great for fans of: Suzanne Roberts's Almost Somewhere, Juliana Buhring's This Road I Ride.


Marianne Bohr and her husband, about to turn sixty, are restless for adventure. They decide on an extended, desolate trek across the French island of Corsica-the GR20, Europe's toughest long-distance footpath-to challenge what it means to grow old. Part travelogue, part buddy story, part memoir, The Twenty is a journey across a rugged island of stunning beauty little known outside Europe.


From a chubby, non-athletic child, Bohr grew into a fit, athletic person with an "I'll show them" attitude. But hiking The Twenty forces her to…


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