Before the Fall

The skeptical doctor reviews a book on the lives of a select group of the French aristocracy prior to the devastating and bloody French Revolution.

Although they were men of the Enlightenment, and many of them espoused democratic ideas of human liberty (they were mostly enthusiasts of the American Revolution), they were so secure in their way of life, so certain of their privileges, that they could hardly conceive that this way of life and these privileges might not continue for ever, and were certain that they could sustain any amount of criticism. In a sense, they wanted their cake and to eat it too: that is to say, be counted as progressive while retaining their personal and class privileges.

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