Revolutions Without Borders: New Book by Historian Janet Polasky

book cover

For the tumultuous years from 1776 to 1804, a focus on compartmentalized national histories cannot do justice to the rowdy, radical interchange of ideas around the Atlantic world during the period. National borders were powerless to restrict the flow of enticing new visions of human rights and universal freedom.

In Revolutions without Borders: The Call to Liberty in the Atlantic World (Yale University Press), UNH Presidential Professor of History Janet Polasky focuses on the eighteenth‑century travelers who spread new notions of liberty and equality. It was an age of itinerant revolutionaries, she shows, who ignored borders and found allies with whom to imagine a borderless world. As paths crossed, ideas entangled. The author investigates these ideas and how they were disseminated long before the days of instant communications and social media or even an international postal system. Polasky analyzes the paper records—books, broadsides, journals, newspapers, novels, letters, and more—to follow the far‑reaching trails of revolutionary zeal. What emerges clearly from rich historic records is that the dream of liberty among America’s founders was part of a much larger picture. It was a dream embraced throughout the far‑flung regions of the Atlantic world.

Revolutions Without Borders explores how the revolutionary ideas that spurred the American and French revolutions reverberated far and wide, connecting European, North American, African, and Caribbean peoples more closely than ever before.

Janet Polasky is the author of the prize-winning Revolution in Brussels, 1787‑1793, The Democratic Socialism of Emile Vandervelde: Between Reform and Revolution, and Reforming Urban Labor: Routes to the City, Roots in the Country. Her book Emile Vandervelde, Le Patron won the Pierlot Prize in Contemporary History.

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