"[Because] generalizations about the Ancien Régime [have grown] increasingly self-contradictory and French history increasingly incomprehensible...the appearance of Professor Goubert's "Ancien Régime", coming as it does from an author with an established reputation, marks a red-letter day; for Professor Goubert is able to show that much of the current orthodoxy is nonsense. All the old clichés, he says, must be abandoned or thought out fresh. The causes of the French Revolution, he asserts categorically, cannot be explained by the 'triumph of an unidentifiable feudal aristocracy.' At last a French professor has the courage to concede that Turgot spoke the truth when in a public debate staged for the instruction of Louis XVI he said: 'the cause of privilege is no longer the cause of the distinguished families against the third estate but the cause of the rich against the poor.'" --C. B. A. Behrens, The New York Review of Books, back cover.