For the Western world, the period from 1760 to 1800 was the great revolutionary era in which the outlines of the modern democratic state came into being. Here for the first time in one volume is the author's account of this incendiary age. The book argues that the American, French, and Polish revolutions—and the movements for political change in Britain, Ireland, Holland, and elsewhere—were manifestations of similar political ideas, needs, and conflicts. The book traces the clash between an older form of society, marked by legalized social rank and hereditary or self-perpetuating elites, and a new form of society that placed a greater value on social mobility and legal equality. Featuring a new foreword, the book introduces a new generation of readers to this enduring work of political history.