Birn's exceptionally well-written narrative covers the century and a half that preceded the French Revolution. The first section, "An Age of Crisis and Discovery (1648-1715)," treats the period between the Peace of Westphalia and the death of Louis XIV as a time of political experimentation, colonial exploitation, hardening social lines, economic regression, and scientific advance. The second section covers the period known retrospectively as the "Ancien R gime" (1715-1789). Eighteenth-century politics are viewed as replete with confrontation and conflict; and a broadened view of the Enlightenment emphasizes the significance of print culture, while also introducing the reader to sites of sociability such as academies, salons, Masonic lodges, and coffeehouses. This is the third edition, revised and expanded, of Crisis, Absolutism, Revolution: Europe 1648-1789, and new to it is an examination of European contact with Africa, the Americas, and South and East Asia. More attention is also paid to the slave trade, women, family life, religion, exploration, and the emergence of a civil society. It contains an index, 17 maps, and 20 illustrations.