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The history of revolution: Aux armes, historiens!

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Who should govern Britain?

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The history of revolution


Why rising up and revolting became so popular

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Hitting back

Hitting back

Revolutions Without Borders: The Call to Liberty in the Atlantic World. By Janet Polasky. Yale University Press; 371 pages; $35 and £25.
REVOLUTIONARIES want to tear down walls. Between 1776, when America declared independence, and 1804, when Haiti at last threw off the yoke of French rule, the compartments and divisions of established power became everyone’s target. This book assiduously describes how, just as the doctrine of the universal rights of man seized the Western world, so too did an irrepressible iconoclasm.

But what sets “Revolutions Without Borders” apart as a work of history is that Janet Polasky tears down walls, too: scholarly ones. Instead of telling the usual heroic national story, she ranges wherever her wayfaring revolutionaries take her—to Paris and Washington, but also to …