Thursday, 14 October 1999

Arthur Hassall: The Balance of Power 1715-1789 (1896)

Edition: Rivingtons
Review number: 359

Part of one of the earliest European histories aimed at the general reader, The Balance of Power summarises the complex politics of the eighteenth century. Now over a century old, it is hardly surprising that the view of history that is offered now seems distinctly old fashioned, but that is far outweighed by the book's man excellent qualities. In fact, it seems much less out of date than many history books written this century, because of the excellent writing.

There can be no doubt that Hassall had a wonderful gift for summarising complicated political manoeuvrings. Balance of Power is still worth reading if you want a straightforward account of this period, more dominated by the personalities of its rulers than almost any other. If, however, you want an account of the development of industrialisation in Europe or the social changes leading to American independence, the French revolution, imperialism or the capitalist system, you would be advised to seek out a more modern history.

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