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Raul Cossio

Incorrect. He was referring to the Chinese student riots of 1968. We already know the disaster the French revolution has brought on the Western World.



To me it seems quite rude to start off a comment with "incorrect." Perhaps you think that's all right. In that case, I will respond: Incorrect. If it is true that he was not referring to the French revolution but was misquoted, it is also not true that he was referring to Chinese student riots, but to (according to the article) French student riots.

However, it is not clear to me from the evidence that he was misquoted, but more that he himself misunderstood the question and therefore answered it incorrectly in this quotable fashion.

Thank you for the link, however! I have tried in vain to find the source of this quotation and even written to Simon Schama about it, so your information is very interesting.

Raul Cossio

Sorry about the abrupt "incorrect". The internet has eroded my manners; not in speech.
I do find that apocryphal quotations abound. I am guilty of it, especially if they does not fit my narrative and a little editing will make it fit. I agree that he likely that he was quoted correctly giving a different question than the one asked. As to "is too soon to say" I think that the French Revolution was a disaster, first for France and then for the rest of the World. I have not read Schama's book. May do so now.

Thanks for posting your thoughts and congratulation on a very interesting blog.


Thanks for your nice note! It's true that it's too easy to be brusque on line. I often tell myself that the really awful offenders are probably 14 years old!

It's such a great quotation. I would be very sad if it never happened.


To refer to the French revolution as a disaster is to misunderstand it's unique importance.
For the first time in recorded history a population overthrew an elite who themselves were heirs to thousands of years of complete control over society.
Many of the events during the revolt were unsurprisingly brutal but it's unlikely America would now have a constitution without the social shock delivered to the world in 1789

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