A distinguished group of historians and political theorists examine the complex relationship between nineteenth-century democracy, nationalism, and authoritarianism, paying especial attention to the careers of Napoleon I and III, and of Bismarck. An important contribution of the book is to consider not only the momentous episodes of coup d'etat, revolution, and imperial foundation which the Napoleonic era heralded, but also the contested political language with which these events were described and assessed. Political thinkers were faced with a battery of new terms - 'Bonapartism', 'Caesarism', and 'Imperialism' among them - with which to make sense of their era. As well as documenting the political history of a revolutionary age, the book examines a series of thinkers - Tocqueville, Marx, Max Weber, Antonio Gramsci, Carl Schmitt, and Hannah Arendt - who articulated and helped to reshare our sense of the political.

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