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The Terror : the merciless war for freedom in revolutionary France /
David Andress.
edition
1st American edition
imprint
New York : Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2006.
description
441 pages, 8 unnumbered leaves of plates : illustrations, maps, portraits ; 24 cm
ISBN
0374273413 (alk. paper), 9780374273415 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
More Details
imprint
New York : Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2006.
isbn
0374273413 (alk. paper)
9780374273415 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
6063373
 
Includes bibliographical references (pages [403]-427) and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
Excerpted from The Terror by David Andress. Copyright 2005 by David Andress. Published January 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved. INTRODUCTION How far can a state legitimately dehumanise its enemies? When is it right arbitrarily to detain those suspected of subversion? Can terror ever be justified as an instrument of policy? These are questions which ought not to need contemporary answers, and yet they do. We have supposed repeatedly over the last two hundred years that we live in a world attuned to the benefits of liberal civilisation a world that ended slavery, regulated the humane conduct of warfare, created genuine democracy and held out the prospect of universal peace. A world, in short, where the almost sixty-year-old opening words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that 'all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights', had meaning. Yet that same world is also the world of the tyrannies of colonial rule, of eugenic experimentation in the name of modernity, of the horrors of two world wars, and the vile perversions of Darwinist science that spawned them, of racial annihilation and a half-century-long contemplation of deliberate nuclear armageddon. The new world order that was supposed to be born from the end of Soviet Communism (itself of course originally a project to better the lot of the oppressed) now seems no more than a morass of moral ambiguity and expediency. The dawning of this troubled modernity saw two great upheavals in the political life of nations: the French and American Revolutions. The principles that underlay both have continued to resonate down the ages whether the pithy 'no taxation without representation' or the varied assertions of 'natural and imprescriptible rights of man' to liberty, security, the pursuit of happiness and other goods. The leaders of both revolutions had a common grounding in the humanitarianism of the Age of Reason, members of a generation that across the European world was abolishing state torture, refining the process of justice away from punishment to rehabilitation, and gearing up to contest the legitimacy of slavery (though only the French tried at this point to abolish it, and that only temporarily, until Napoleon's more pragmatic reign). From these common roots, the two revolutions are usually seen as diverging sharply. The Americans founded an enduring constitutional settlement on the separation of powers and the checks and balances of a federal system. The French plunged into an abyss of blood and fire, to emerge under the thumb of a military dictator crowned as emperor. The story, of course, is not actually that simple. France's decade of revolutionary strife was easily matched by the years of warfare in North America between the mid-1770s and mid-1780s. Of the colonies' 2.5 million inhabitants, one in every twenty-five fled abroad, far exceeding the proportion that left France during her Revolution. A third of the adult male population of the colonies were in arms, and many of those were in semi-official militias, or simple armed bands, that preyed on civilian populations for years at a time. Military fatalities reached perhaps one in thirty-five of the entire population, with uncounted tens of thousands of other deaths from violence and unchecked disease. The crude numbers of dead in the wars and repressions of the French Revolution a half-million or more are more horrific in their scale, but, in proportion to a population more than ten times greater, little worse than the American example. The sheer bloodiness of the American conflict is noteworthy because the rebels were trying to throw off a government that resided several thousand miles distant, and for much of the period were doing so with
Excerpt from Book
Excerpted fromThe Terrorby David Andress. Copyright 2005 by David Andress. Published January 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved. INTRODUCTION How far can a state legitimately dehumanise its enemies? When is it right arbitrarily to detain those suspected of subversion? Can terror ever be justified as an instrument of policy? These are questions which ought not to need contemporary answers, and yet they do. We have supposed repeatedly over the last two hundred years that we live in a world attuned to the benefits of liberal civilisation a world that ended slavery, regulated the humane conduct of warfare, created genuine democracy and held out the prospect of universal peace. A world, in short, where the almost sixty-year-old opening words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that 'all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights', had meaning. Yet that same world is also the world of the tyrannies of colonial rule, of eugenic experimentation in the name of modernity, of the horrors of two world wars, and the vile perversions of Darwinist science that spawned them, of racial annihilation and a half-century-long contemplation of deliberate nuclear armageddon. The new world order that was supposed to be born from the end of Soviet Communism (itself of course originally a project to better the lot of the oppressed) now seems no more than a morass of moral ambiguity and expediency. The dawning of this troubled modernity saw two great upheavals in the political life of nations: the French and American Revolutions. The principles that underlay both have continued to resonate down the ages whether the pithy 'no taxation without representation' or the varied assertions of 'natural and imprescriptible rights of man' to liberty, security, the pursuit of happiness and other goods. The leaders of both revolutions had a common grounding in the humanitarianism of the Age of Reason, members of a generation that across the European world was abolishing state torture, refining the process of justice away from punishment to rehabilitation, and gearing up to contest the legitimacy of slavery (though only the French tried at this point to abolish it, and that only temporarily, until Napoleon's more pragmatic reign). From these common roots, the two revolutions are usually seen as diverging sharply. The Americans founded an enduring constitutional settlement on the separation of powers and the checks and balances of a federal system. The French plunged into an abyss of blood and fire, to emerge under the thumb of a military dictator crowned as emperor. The story, of course, is not actually that simple. France's decade of revolutionary strife was easily matched by the years of warfare in North America between the mid-1770s and mid-1780s. Of the colonies' 2.5 million inhabitants, one in every twenty-five fled abroad, far exceeding the proportion that left France during her Revolution. A third of the adult male population of the colonies were in arms, and many of those were in semi-official militias, or simple armed bands, that preyed on civilian populations for years at a time. Military fatalities reached perhaps one in thirty-five of the entire population, with uncounted tens of thousands of other deaths from violence and unchecked disease. The crude numbers of dead in the wars and repressions of the French Revolution a half-million or more are more horrific in their scale, but, in proportion to a population more than ten times greater, little worse than the American example. The sheer bloodiness of the American conflict is noteworthy because the rebels were trying to throw off a government that resided several thousand miles distant, and for much of the period were doing so with t
Excerpt from Book
In the brief midsummer darkness of 20-21 June 1791, Louis XVI, King of the French, fled his capital and his people. Using secret passageways in the Tuileries palace, the royal family were spirited away by a small band of loyal followers, leaving central Paris in a hired hackney carriage driven by Axel von Fersen, a dashing young Swedish knight, and rumoured lover of Queen Marie-Antoinette. Outside the city walls Fersen left them to make his own escape, and the party embarked in a second-hand berline, a bulky coach pulled by a team of six horses. Louis had spurned the chance to flee in anything lighter and faster, because it would have meant traveling apart from his wife and their two children. Together, he reasoned, they were safer, but as the coach creaked and groaned eastwards towards the frontier fortress of Montmedy, laden down with the family, their attendants, bodyguards and luggage, it would prove a fatefully unwise choice. The fugitives' schedule had been carefully plotted, and relays of cavalry were to see them to safety, once they had passed into the jurisdiction of the marquis de Bouille, loyal governor of the frontier region. The departure had been delayed by several hours, however, by last-minute hesitations and confusions, and the berline was too slow to make up the time. The duc de Choiseul, commander of the first relay of horsemen, presumed the escape postponed (as it had been once already, after repeated earlier reschedulings), and ordered his men to withdraw to barracks, concerned that their presence was alarming the locals. He passed the same instruction to all the later relays. Ignorant of this critical decision, the royal party proceeded towards the first rendezvous. Escorted by only two horsemen, the berline meandered on across the rolling landscape of Champagne as morning turned to afternoontwice the king ordered a rest-stop, and, casting aside all effort at concealment, chatted with passers-by as if nothing unusual was occurring. Yet what was happening was amazing and traumatic. Not since the religious and political strife of the early seventeenth century had a king of France had to flee his people, and never had one made so brazenlyor so desperatelyfor the frontiers. This episode had been brought about by upheavals which were unprecedented in European history, with a long and tortured trail of antecedents reaching across Louis' reign into that of his predecessor. If the king and his companions regarded their move with insouciance, this was a symptom of the wider delusions that the entire court laboured under, long after events had first decisively challenged their right to rule France as they saw fit...
First Chapter
Excerpted from The Terror by David Andress. Copyright © 2005 by David Andress. Published January 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.

INTRODUCTION

How far can a state legitimately dehumanise its enemies? When is it right arbitrarily to detain those suspected of subversion? Can terror ever be justified as an instrument of policy? These are questions which ought not to need contemporary answers, and yet they do. We have supposed repeatedly over the last two hundred years that we live in a world attuned to the benefits of liberal civilisation — a world that ended slavery, regulated the humane conduct of warfare, created genuine democracy and held out the prospect of universal peace. A world, in short, where the almost sixty-year-old opening words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that ‘all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’, had meaning.

Yet that same world is also the world of the tyrannies of colonial rule, of eugenic experimentation in the name of modernity, of the horrors of two world wars, and the vile perversions of Darwinist science that spawned them, of racial annihilation and a half-century-long contemplation of deliberate nuclear armageddon. The new world order that was supposed to be born from the end of Soviet Communism (itself of course originally a project to better the lot of the oppressed) now seems no more than a morass of moral ambiguity and expediency.

The dawning of this troubled modernity saw two great upheavals in the political life of nations: the French and American Revolutions. The principles that underlay both have continued to resonate down the ages — whether the pithy ‘no taxation without representation’ or the varied assertions of ‘natural and imprescriptible rights of man’ to liberty, security, the pursuit of happiness and other goods. The leaders of both revolutions had a common grounding in the humanitarianism of the Age of Reason, members of a generation that across the European world was abolishing state torture, refining the process of justice away from punishment to rehabilitation, and gearing up to contest the legitimacy of slavery (though only the French tried at this point to abolish it, and that only temporarily, until Napoleon’s more pragmatic reign).

From these common roots, the two revolutions are usually seen as diverging sharply. The Americans founded an enduring constitutional settlement on the separation of powers and the checks and balances of a federal system. The French plunged into an abyss of blood and fire, to emerge under the thumb of a military dictator crowned as emperor. The story, of course, is not actually that simple. France’s decade of revolutionary strife was easily matched by the years of warfare in North America between the mid-1770s and mid-1780s. Of the colonies’ 2.5 million inhabitants, one in every twenty-five fled abroad, far exceeding the proportion that left France during her Revolution. A third of the adult male population of the colonies were in arms, and many of those were in semi-official militias, or simple armed bands, that preyed on civilian populations for years at a time. Military fatalities reached perhaps one in thirty-five of the entire population, with uncounted tens of thousands of other deaths from violence and unchecked disease. The crude numbers of dead in the wars and repressions of the French Revolution — a half-million or more — are more horrific in their scale, but, in proportion to a population more than ten times greater, little worse than the American example.

The sheer bloodiness of the American conflict is noteworthy because the rebels were trying to throw off a government that resided several thousand miles distant, and for much of the period were doing so with the active assistance of several other European powers. The French revolutionaries, by contrast, fought to overturn not merely a distant colonial power, but an entire social order, and to do so with virtually all of Europe in arms against them. What is astonishing is not so much that they tried but that, in a very real sense, they succeeded. When the French Revolution was over, the world was a very different place. The map of Europe was no longer drawn to suit the competing dynastic ambitions of ancient monarchical houses, and political debates across the continent no longer hinged on the selfish assertion of ancient privileges and prerogatives. Structures that were created by the powers of Europe explicitly to resist the threat of further revolution nonetheless were also by definition innovations, radical breaks with the past. Out of the destabilising threat of subversion from below came the ‘Concert of Europe’ agreed after the fall of Napoleon, an international system that for a generation governed the politics of the continent. New creations like the kingdom of the United Netherlands came into existence as buffer-states against French revolutionary contamination, and the map of central Europe took a decisive step towards the emergence of a modern Germany.

The French Revolution’s impact was so deep seated that simply turning the clock back had become impossible, and the more profound recognition of this was in the birth of an entire new ideology — conservatism — designed to prevent further upheaval without being mere futile backward-looking reaction. Just as conservatism was born in revolution, so too more directly was liberalism, the crystallisation of the concern for the rights-bearing individual citizen that had animated the initial revolutionary pronouncements of 1789. Together, these two political currents would dominate the modern world, until with the growth of the marginalised industrial working classes of the later nineteenth century socialism intruded violently to join them.

But socialism, too, was a child of the French Revolution. Intellectually, Karl Marx derived his entire picture of historical progress from liberal writers who saw in the Revolution the inevitable rise of the bourgeoisie.3 Socially and politically, the example of the Revolution’s radical phases produced a message of ineradicable commitment to human equality that demanded action against the injustices of an industrialising world. Meanwhile nationalism, without which the history of the last 150 years is simply inconceivable, was also born in its modern forms out of the aspirations and conflicts of the revolutionary era. The modern sense of national identity, of active belonging to a national citizen-body with its associated freight of rights and duties, is as much a product of this upheaval as is the tricolour or the Marseillaise. On a whole host of political, intellectual and structural planes, the French Revolution is the fount and origin of our modern world.

Here, of course, lies the heart of the historical dilemma we began with, for the French Revolution about which William Wordsworth rhapsodised ‘Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive’ is also the Revolution that brought the Terror to European consciousness, passing its thousands of victims beneath the modern, humane, death-dealing blade of the guillotine, turning an entire realm upside-down with paranoid pursuit of dissent and pitiless subjugation of individuals to a faceless national cause.

Many have argued that the Terror was inherent in the Revolution’s project of innovation — a point made by countless reactionary and Catholic polemics — or that it was inherent in the political culture from which the Revolution itself sprang. That view is particularly prominent today, and has been since the late 1980s. In the declining years of the Cold War, and even more after the fall of the Soviet bloc, there seemed little value in earlier interpretations that put revolution at the heart of modernising change. Historical opinion instead focused on the supposedly unique and iniquitous qualities of revolutionary discourse — on how the power of the revolutionaries to reshape language, to give new names to old things, slid into a wild and erratic intoxication of power, to the commitment to change everything, and to remould humanity in an image so purified as to become perversely meaningless, merely a justification for further purges and executions of those who did not measure up.

Along the way, it has sometimes become hard to see what the Terror actually was. In particular, it is seldom acknowledged now how far it was (much like the American Revolution) a civil war, deriving much of its grim impetus from the inevitable bitterness of conflict between former friends. Seldom, too, is it recognised just how important and active a role the enemies of the Revolution played in the aggravation of its politics — how eagerly, for example, the king and queen of France steered the country into foreign war, with the avowed intention of using the conflict to destroy the Revolution. In all the writings on the paranoid tendencies of the revolutionaries (tendencies which are, again, well attested in the parallel American experience too),5 little attention is given to the issue of how such beliefs were given ample food by the betrayals, some real and deliberate, some clumsy and unintentional, that dogged the very heart of revolutionary politics.


Excerpted from The Terror: The Merciless War for Freedom in Revolutionary France by David Andress
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2007-01-01:
British historian Andress (Univ. of Portsmouth), author of several books on the French Revolution, presents a narrative overview of one of the most turbulent periods in French history, when the state not only arbitrarily arrested and often executed those suspected of opposition but dehumanized them as well. The result is a rich, detailed history of France from the flight of the king in 1791 through the dismantling of the Terror and establishment of the Directory in 1795. Andress dismisses those on the Right who see violence as inherent in revolution. In his view, the Terror resulted from civil war (the failure of consensus, bitter divisions among its supporters, and betrayal), as well as the forceful attacks of its enemies, beginning with Louis XVI. The author concludes that because Jacobins did not question the means by which they sought their goals, they paradoxically undermined the liberty they valued most. Andress similarly warns of the danger that liberty faces from those who cry vigilance and wage war on terror today. A synthesis of recent scholarship designed for the general reader, the book contains a chronology, list of characters, and extensive notes, but no bibliography. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. D. C. Baxter Ohio University
Appeared in Library Journal on 2005-12-01:
According to Andress (history, Univ. of Portsmouth, UK; The French Revolution and the People), the French Revolution ushered in an era that has had an essentially positive impact-a view that few recent historians have shared. Simon Schama in Citizens and Fran?ois Furet in Interpreting the French Revolution see the revolution as an aberration and point to the bloody excesses of the Reign of Terror (1793-94) as the inevitable culmination of a misguided attempt to change French society. For his part, Andress skillfully evokes the context that led to state-sponsored terror, and although he condemns the brutality of such intransigent revolutionaries as Danton, Saint-Just, Robespierre, and their fanatical minions, he asserts that it was the iron will of these zealots that sustained the ideals of a new epoch, where the rights of humankind took center stage. Andress may draw fire for comparing the ideological intolerance of the Committee of Public Safety with measures adopted by the post-9/11 American government, but even his most vehement critics will have to agree that his thesis is thoroughly grounded in all the pertinent primary and secondary sources on the era and readably presented. This is the best book on the French Revolution to be published in years and is recommended for academic and public libraries.-Jim Doyle, Sara Hightower Regional Lib., Rome, GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2005-09-05:
Andress offers a visceral account of the guillotining of King Louis XVI in 1793: "he was strapped to a tilting plank, which dropped his head into a brace, and the blade... plunged from above." While the British historian's graphic depiction of numerous executions is a high point of his account of the Terror, he explicitly states it was not the most salient point of the revolution. Countering the historiography of the last generation, including Simon Schama, who said, "violence was the revolution itself," Andress focuses not just on the killings but on the "grand political pronouncements, uprisings and insurrections," from the varying ideologies of the dissident parties to the upheaval of the counterrevolution that rendered France unstable for more than a decade, resulting not just in violence but also in social upheaval. And Andress follows the Terror beyond its conclusion to Napoleon Bonaparte's coronation as emperor in 1804, which brought the revolution "full circle," creating a strong central government that scorned democracy and popular sovereignty, the revolution's central tenets. His focus on such paradoxes and on the Terror as the culmination of a complex historical process rather than an unprovoked outbreak of violence, makes for a bracing historical reassessment. 3 maps. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Countering the historiography of the last generation, including Simon Schama...Andress focuses not just on the killings but on the "grand political pronouncements, uprisings, and insurrections"...His focus on the Terror as the culmination of a complex historical process rather than an unprovoked outbreak of violence, makes for a bracing historical reassessment." Publishers Weekly " . . . [a] well-researched, well-written, and highly revisionist work." Sunday Times "Andress, in this compelling study . . . scotches many myths, and gives some sobering parallels to contemporary society." Scotland on Sunday "Andress creates a vivid picture of the time... Amid today's issues of individual rights, legitimate limits of state power and demonization of enemies, the book has great relevance" Waterstones Books Quarterly Praise from the UK: "This is the most authoritative treatment we are likely to have for many years." William Doyle, The Independent "A tour de force. There is nothing to beat it." Spectator "[A] brilliantly deadpan account . . . one of the ironies that Andress skillfully reveals is that the law was denied, bit by bit, by the very men who had once been practicing it . . . he also shows how the feeble poisoned the righteous, revolutionary anger." The Guardian "In such alarming times, it is important to understand what exactly terror is, how it works politically, and what, if anything, can be done to combat it. The historian David Andress has made a serious contribution to this central subject of our times with an accessible account of the way terror overtook the French Revolution at the end of the 18th Century." The Times "It is a staggeringly complicated story that is just about ordered into a manageable narrative in Andress's even-tempered re-telling." The Observer "Much important work on the French Terror has been done over the past 20 years by French, English, and American historians, and there is now a need to synthesize this into an accessible narrative history for a wider public. This is David Andress's aim, and one which he generally achieves in this well-written and handsomely produced book." Sunday Telegraph "David Andress has given the reader a meticulous account of the Terror, in all its confusing twists and turns . . . While never failing to convey the drama and horrors of the Terror, Andress resists the temptation to exaggerate or turn drama into melodrama. He has written a book which stands beside Simon Schama's Citizens." Times Literary Review "Andress, in this compelling study, offers a far subtler, far more cogent approach to understanding the period, without ever becoming an apologist for the excesses." Scotland on Sunday "Andress creates a vivid picture of the time... Amid today's issues of individual rights, legitimate limits of state power and demonisation of enemies, the book has great relevance." Waterstones Books Quarterly
"Countering the historiography of the last generation, including Simon Schama...Andress focuses not just on the killings but on the "grand political pronouncements, uprisings, and insurrections"...His focus on the Terror as the culmination of a complex historical process rather than an unprovoked outbreak of violence, makes for a bracing historical reassessment." Publishers Weekly " [A] well-researched, well-written, and highly revisionist work." Sunday Times "Andress, in this compelling study . . . scotches many myths, and gives some sobering parallels to contemporary society." Scotland on Sunday "Andress creates a vivid picture of the time... Amid today's issues of individual rights, legitimate limits of state power and demonization of enemies, the book has great relevance" Waterstones Books Quarterly Praise from the UK: "This is the most authoritative treatment we are likely to have for many years." William Doyle, The Independent "A tour de force. There is nothing to beat it." Spectator "[A] brilliantly deadpan account . . . one of the ironies that Andress skillfully reveals is that the law was denied, bit by bit, by the very men who had once been practicing it . . . he also shows how the feeble poisoned the righteous, revolutionary anger." The Guardian "In such alarming times, it is important to understand what exactly terror is, how it works politically, and what, if anything, can be done to combat it. The historian David Andress has made a serious contribution to this central subject of our times with an accessible account of the way terror overtook the French Revolution at the end of the 18th Century." The Times "It is a staggeringly complicated story that is just about ordered into a manageable narrative in Andress's even-tempered re-telling." The Observer "Much important work on the French Terror has been done over the past 20 years by French, English, and American historians, and there is now a need to synthesize this into an accessible narrative history for a wider public. This is David Andress's aim, and one which he generally achieves in this well-written and handsomely produced book." Sunday Telegraph "David Andress has given the reader a meticulous account of the Terror, in all its confusing twists and turns . . . While never failing to convey the drama and horrors of the Terror, Andress resists the temptation to exaggerate or turn drama into melodrama. He has written a book which stands beside Simon Schama's Citizens." Times Literary Review "Andress, in this compelling study, offers a far subtler, far more cogent approach to understanding the period, without ever becoming an apologist for the excesses." Scotland on Sunday "Andress creates a vivid picture of the time... Amid today's issues of individual rights, legitimate limits of state power and demonisation of enemies, the book has great relevance." Waterstones Books Quarterly
"Countering the historiography of the last generation, including Simon Schama... Andress focuses not just on the killings but on the "grand political pronouncements, uprisings, and insurrections.".. His focus on the Terror as the culmination of a complex historical process rather than an unprovoked outbreak of violence, makes for a bracing historical reassessment." -- Publishers Weekly " [A] well-researched, well-written, and highly revisionist work."-- Sunday Times "Andress, in this compelling study . . . scotches many myths, and gives some sobering parallels to contemporary society." -- Scotland on Sunday "Andress creates a vivid picture of the time... Amid today's issues of individual rights, legitimate limits of state power and demonization of enemies, the book has great relevance" -- Waterstones Books Quarterly "Praise from the UK: """ "This is the most authoritative treatment we are likely to have for many years." -- William Doyle, "The Independent" "A tour de force. There is nothing to beat it." -- "Spectator" "[A] brilliantly deadpan account . . . one of the ironies that Andress skillfully reveals is that the law was denied, bit by bit, by the very men who had once been practicing it . . . he also shows how the feeble poisoned the righteous, revolutionary anger." -- "The Guardian " "In such alarming times, it is important to understand what exactly terror is, how it works politically, and what, if anything, can be done to combat it. The historian David Andress has made a serious contribution to this central subject of our times with an accessible account of the wayterror overtook the French Revolution at the end of the 18th Century." -- "The Times " "It is a staggeringly complicated story that is just about ordered into a manageable narrative in Andress's even-tempered re-telling." -- "The Observer " "Much important work on the French Terror has been done over the past 20 years by French, English, and American historians, and there is now a need to synthesize this into an accessible narrative history for a wider public. This is David Andress's aim, and one which he generally achieves in this well-written and handsomely produced book." -- "Sunday Telegraph " " David Andress has given the reader a meticulous account of the Terror, in all its confusing twists and turns . . . While never failing to convey the drama and horrors of the Terror, Andress resists the temptation to exaggerate or turn drama into melodrama. He has written a book which stands beside Simon Schama's "Citizens,"" -- "Times Literary Review" " Andress, in this compelling study, offers a far subtler, far more cogent approach to understanding the period, without ever becoming an apologist for the excesses." -- "Scotland on Sunday""" " Andress creates a vivid picture of the time... Amid today's issues of individual rights, legitimate limits of state power and demonisation of enemies, the book has great relevance." -- "Waterstones Books Quarterly"
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, September 2005
Booklist, November 2005
Library Journal, December 2005
New York Times Book Review, May 2006
Choice, January 2007
Reference & Research Book News, February 2007
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Long Description
For two hundred years, the Terror has haunted the imagination of the West. The descent of the French Revolution from rapturous liberation into an orgy of apparently pointless bloodletting has been the focus of countless reflections on the often malignant nature of humanity and the folly of revolution. David Andress, a leading historian of the French Revolution, presents a radically different account of the Terror. In a remarkably vivid and page-turning work of history, he transports the reader from the pitched battles on the streets of Paris to the royal family's escape through secret passageways in the Tuileries palace, and across the landscape of the tragic last years of the Revolution. The violence, he shows, was a result of dogmatic and fundamentalist thinking: dreadful decisions were made by groups of people who believed they were still fighting for freedom but whose survival was threatened by famine, external war, and counter-revolutionaries within the fledging new state. Urgent questions emerge from Andress's trenchant reassessment: When is it right to arbitrarily detain those suspected of subversion? When does an earnest patriotism become the rationale for slaughter? Combining startling narrative power and bold insight, "The Terror" is written with verve and exceptional pace-it is a superb popular debut from an enormously talented historian.
Unpaid Annotation
For two hundred years, the Terror has haunted the imagination of the West. The descent of the French Revolution from rapturous liberation into an orgy of apparently pointless bloodletting has been the focus of countless reflections on the often malignant nature of humanity and the folly of revolution. David Andress, a leading historian of the French Revolution, presents a radically different account of the Terror. In a remarkably vivid and page-turning work of history, he transports the reader from the pitched battles on the streets of Paris to the royal family's escape through secret passageways in the Tuileries palace, and across the landscape of the tragic last years of the Revolution. The violence, he shows, was a result of dogmatic and fundamentalist thinking: dreadful decisions were made by groups of people who believed they were still fighting for freedom but whose survival was threatened by famine, external war, and counter-revolutionaries within the fledging new state. Urgent questions emerge from Andress's trenchant reassessment: When is it right to arbitrarily detain those suspected of subversion? When does an earnest patriotism become the rationale for slaughter? Combining startling narrative power and bold insight, The Terror is written with verve and exceptional pace-it is a superb popular debut from an enormously talented historian.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgementsp. vii
Mapsp. viii
Introductionp. 1
Night Flightp. 9
Hankering After Destructionp. 38
The Fallp. 71
The September Massacresp. 93
Dawn of a New Agep. 116
Things Fall Apartp. 149
Holding the Centrep. 178
Saturnaliap. 210
Faction and Conspiracyp. 244
Glaciationp. 277
Triumph and Collapsep. 312
Terror Against Terrorp. 345
Conclusionp. 371
Timeline of the French Revolution to 1795p. 379
Glossaryp. 385
Cast of Charactersp. 391
Notesp. 403
Indexp. 429
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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