Rebel Cities: Paris, London and New York in the Age of Revolution by Mike Rapport - review by Dominic Green

Dominic Green

Urban Warfare

Rebel Cities: Paris, London and New York in the Age of Revolution

By

Little, Brown 424pp £25 order from our bookshop
 

‘Men make the city, not walls or ships,’ Thucydides wrote in his History of the Peloponnesian Wars. The physical polis was merely the stage for the institutions and laws of politeia. The men who made it were not the same as the mass they governed. The vast majority of Athenian residents were excluded from political participation on the grounds of sex and birth. If the Roman Empire was more generous with citizenship, it was because popular political participation had expired with the republic.

For Elizabethans as for the ancients, the urban mass was a problem to be managed and a mob to be feared. Shakespeare’s Coriolanus despises ‘the tribunes of the people’ and ‘the tongues o’ the common mouth … For they do prank them in authority,/Against all noble sufferance.’ The democratic revolutions

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter