Why this book?
Young was an English agriculturalist who took time out from farming to analyse life and developments in the countryside. He toured Britain, then Ireland, and finally France. Here, he lucked in. He wandered the fields, lanes, and city streets of France as the Revolution was brewing and then erupting. Although not an aristo himself, he frequented nobility and royalty, and was amazed at the blissful indifference of the idle rich about what was going on around them. He saw the extreme poverty of the peasants, who were being worked and starved to death by their absentee landlords. He witnessed the actual events of the Revolution and had to talk himself out of getting lynched as a potential aristo spy. It’s a book to browse rather than consume whole, and contains whole pages about crop yields and diseases, but at times it is the most measured first-hand view of the Revolution that I’ve ever read, and much more convincing than any analysis I’ve come across by a French writer.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
Arthur Young (1741-1820) was an English writer on agriculture, economics and social statistics. At the age of seventeen, he published a pamphlet On the War in North America, and in 1761 went to London and started a periodical, entitled The Universal Museum. He also wrote four novels, and Reflections on the Present State of Affairs at Home and Abroad in 1759. Young produced around 25 books and pamphlets on agriculture and 15 books on political economy, as well as many articles. He was famous for the views he expressed, as an agricultural improver, political economist and social observer. Amongst his…