The French Revolution has often been perceived as the dawn of the modern era, the divide between the ancien regime and the contemporary world. It is an undeniably crucial event in the history of Western Civilization. Yet it is also a confusing and oft-misunderstood event. This comprehensive examination of the Revolution provides students with a narrative historical overview, essays on major aspects of the event, lengthy biographical profiles of key persons, the text of important primary documents contemporary to the time, a timeline, a glossary, and an annotated bibliography of print and electronic sources suitable to students. This is an ideal starting point for students and general readers interested in this fascinating historical period. Marsha and Linda Frey, noted French historians, place the French Revolution in historical and social context for the reader. In addition to a historical overview, other essays explore the deterioration of the ancien regime and the birth of the revolution, the Terror, the culture of the Revolution, Revolution-era diplomacy, and the ambiguous legacy of the Revolution. Biographical portraits range from Louis XVI to Robespierre and from Danton to Lafayette. Primary documents such as the Declaration of the Rights of Man, excerpts from the memoirs of French minister Miot de Melito, and Englishman William Eden's description of Revolutionary France bring to life the political, cultural, and emotional upheaval that was the French Revolution. Illustrations from contemporary sources add a valuable visual component to this all-in-one reference source.