The Pursuit of Glory

The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648-1814

Cover of the first edition, published by Allen Lane
Author Tim Blanning
Language English
Subject History
Genre Non-fiction
Publisher Allen Lane, Penguin Books (UK and US)
Viking Adult, Kindle Books (US)
Publication date
April 26, 2007 (UK)
January 1, 2007 (US)
Pages 736
ISBN 978-0-7139-9087-4 (Allen Lane hardback)
ISBN 978-0-14-016667-5 (UK Penguin Books paperback)
ISBN 978-0-670-06320-8 (Viking Adult hardback)
ISBN 978-0-14-311389-8 (US Penguin Books paperback)

The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 16481815, written by the British historian Timothy Blanning, was first published by Allen Lane in 2007. It met with very favourable reviews, was The Sunday Times history book of the year, and was reprinted in paperback by Penguin Books in 2008. In the United States, a Kindle Books edition, The Pursuit of Glory: The Five Revolutions that Made Modern Europe, was released in 2007. This title was also chosen for the American Penguin Books paperback edition of 2008. It is part of The Penguin History of Europe series, which is edited by David Cannadine.

Style and Content

The book presents a many-faceted history of Europe in the years 16481815. The contents, which give an indication of the wide range of subjects covered, read:


List of Illustrations


  1. Europe in the era of Louis XIV
  2. Europe in the eighteenth century
  3. Europe in 1809
  4. Europe in 1815
  5. The Holy Roman empire and the Habsburg Monarchy in the eighteenth century



Part One: Life and Death

1. Communications

2. People

3. Trade and Manufacturing

4. Agriculture and the Rural World

Part Two: Power

5. Rulers and Their Elites

6. Reform and Revolution

Part Three: Religion and Culture

7. Religion and the Churches

8. Court and Country

9. Palace and Gardens

10. The Culture of Feeling and the Culture of Reason

Part Four: War and Peace

11. From the Peace of Westphalia to the Peace of Nystad

12. From the Peace of Nystad to the French Revolutionary Wars

13. The Wars of the French Revolution and Napoleon


Suggested Reading



Blanning does not use footnotes in this book. However, he frequently quotes and names other historians, incorporating their opinions and conclusions into his narrative. He links the vast international scholarship on the end of the Ancien Régime with his own assertions and hypothesis.[2] On matters where there is much dispute amongst historians, Blanning informs the reader of the historiography, presenting the different viewpoints, while generally giving his own judgment on the matter at the end of the section. An example is the debate over the existence of the Industrial Revolution. The section An 'Industrial Revolution'?, in chapter 3. Trade and Manufacturing, for example, is a detailed discussion of the contrasting viewpoints, mainly whether or not there was indeed an industrial 'revolution'; and Blanning concludes that: 'the changes in commerce and manufacturing do deserve their revolutionary status. The world was transformed by industrialization, it did begin in Great Britain and it did begin in this period.'[3]


Reception to the book was extremely favourable. In Britain, it was chosen as The Sunday Times history book of the year. The Spectator called it 'outstanding', although it did state: 'I wish that Blanning would not keep quoting other historians, often for the most unremarkable statements, a habit which makes him sound at times like the compère of a variety show',[4] The Daily Telegraph called it a 'triumph',[5] The Guardian 'Sparkling...unfailingly accurate, good-humoured and often witty',[6] The New York Times 'A page turner...history writing at its glorious best',[7] and, finally, The Literary Review 'a jolly good read'.


  1. Tim Blanning, The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 16481815, London: Penguin Books, 2008, p. v
  2. Tim Blanning, The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648-1815, London: Penguin Books, 2008
  3. Tim Blanning, The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 16481815, London: Penguin Books, 2008, pp. 125141
  4. Jonathan Sumption. "Coping with a Continent". The Spectator, 6 June 2007.
  5. Jane Stevenson. "Things Could Only Get Better". The Daily Telegraph, 24 May 2007.
  6. Keith Thomas. "Hell optional, heaven postponed". The Guardian, 9 June 2007.
  7. John Steele Gordon. "Europe's Rise to Power? Thank Better Roads, Revolutions of All Sorts and Turnips". The New York Times, 4 July 2007.
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