Terror

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Macmillan, Nov 14, 2006 - History - 436 pages

For the audience that made a major bestseller of Simon Schama’s Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution comes this exhaustively researched, character-driven chronicle of revolutionary terror, its victims, and the young men---energetic, idealistic, and sincere---who turned the French Republic into a slaughterhouse.

1792 found the newborn Republic threatened from all sides: the British blockaded the coasts, Continental armies poured over the frontiers, and the provinces verged on open revolt. Paranoia simmering in the capital, the Revolution slipped under control of a powerful clique and its fanatical political organization, the Jacobin Club. For two years, this faction, obsessed with patriotism and purity---self-appointed to define both---inflicted on their countrymen a reign of terror unsurpassed until Stalin’s Russia.

It was the time dominated by Maximilien Robespierre, Georges Danton, Jean-Paul Marat and Louis-Antoine Saint-Just (called “The Angel of Death”), when Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette met their ends, when any hint of dissent was ruthlessly quashed by the State. It was the time of the guillotine, neighborhood informants, and mob justice.

This extraordinary, bloodthirsty period comes vividly to life in Graeme Fife’s new book. Drawing on contemporary police files, eyewitness accounts, directives from the sinister Committee for Public Safety, and heart-wrenching last letters from prisoners awaiting execution, the author brilliantly re-creates the psychotic atmosphere of that time.

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THE TERROR: The Shadow of the Guillotine: France 1792-1794

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Yet another visit to those sanguinary years when heads rolled, blood flowed and people cheered.In his first book, BBC Radio writer Fife eschews most of the traditional conventions of scholarship and ... Read full review

The Terror: the shadow of the guillotine: France, 1792-1794

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Through myriad first-person accounts, Fife (BBC radio) evokes those volatile months from the execution of Louis XVI to the guillotining of Robespierre during which nearly 40,000 French men, women, and ... Read full review

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About the author (2006)

Graeme Fife, one-time lecturer in Latin and Greek literature at the University of Reading, has written a vast number of stories, documentaries, features, talks and plays for BBC radio including Revolutionary Portraits (translated from contemporary documents of the French revolutionary period), A Breath of Fresh Air (a dramatized account of the death on the guillotine in May 1794 of Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, justly known as the father of modern chemistry, who discovered the secret of combustion), and The Whisper of the Axe (a harrowing drama based on last letters written by prisoners during the Terror). He is the author of eight books, including Arthur the King: A Study of Mediaeval Legend in its Social, Historical and Literary Context (also published in United States of America) and two studies of professional cycle racing, Tour de France: The History, the Legend, the Riders and Inside the Peloton: Riding, Winning and Losing the Tour de France (also translated into Dutch). He has written articles on a wide variety of subjects for magazines and national newspapers and has broadcast on BBC Radio and the World Service.

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