A Feast of French Facts

THE LONGMAN COMPANION TO THE FRENCH REVOLUTION by Colin Jones, London and New York: Longman. 473 pp. $79.95

COLIN JONES, a senior lecturer in history at England's Exeter University, has collected what must surely be every known fact about the French Revolution. Every name, date, event, analysis, place, along with some maps and charts. In fact all you might want to know (and quite a few facts you never thought of wondering about) is presented in a clear, orderly fashion.

In a few seconds you can discover, for example, the names of newspapers printed at the time, short biographies of minor as well as major figures, the powers of the king, the numbers of deaths per department during the Reign of Terror. Particularly helpful are a chronology of events and a definition of terms. (Do you know the difference between ``sans-culottes'' and ``sans-culottides''?)

``My rule of thumb,'' writes Jones in his preface, ``has been to include material which I would have found useful when studying the revolution as a general reader, and as an undergraduate and postgraduate.''

That his book will be invaluable to the student is obvious, but readers should notice that Jones has them in mind only if they are ``studying'' the revolution. But after all, 1989 is a good year to do just that.

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