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In Defence of the Terror

Liberty or Death in the French Revolution

Sophie Wahnich

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Verso Books
22 December 2015
History; European history; Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900; French Revolution
For two hundred years after the French Revolution, the Republican tradition celebrated the execution of princes and aristocrats, defending the Terror that the Revolution inflicted upon on its enemies. But recent decades have brought a marked change in sensibility. The Revolution is no longer judged in terms of historical necessity but rather by timeless standards of morality. In this succinct essay, Sophie Wahnich explains how, contrary to prevailing interpretations, the institution of Terror sought to put a brake on legitimate popular violence--in Danton's words, to be terrible so as to spare the people the need to be so --and was subsequently subsumed in a logic of war. The Terror was a process welded to a regime of popular sovereignty, the only alternatives being to defeat tyranny or die for liberty.
By:   Sophie Wahnich
Imprint:   Verso Books
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 198mm,  Width: 129mm,  Spine: 15mm
Weight:   367g
ISBN:   9781784782023
ISBN 10:   1784782025
Pages:   144
Publication Date:   22 December 2015
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Sophie Wahnich is a historian based at the Laboratoire d'anthropologie des institutions et des organisations sociales in Paris. Her previous publications include L'impossible citoyen. L'etranger dans le discours de la Revolution francaise and La Longue patience du peuple: 1792, naissance de la Republique.

Reviews for In Defence of the Terror: Liberty or Death in the French Revolution

In Defence of the Terror is a provocative and compelling essay, well written and impressively concise, with a good mix of contemporary resonance and archival detail. Peter Hallward An intriguing take on modern social issues and history. The Midwest Book Review In this portable (5.5x8 ) study, Wahnich (the Laboratory of the Anthropology of Institutions and Social Organizations, France) goes against current historical interpretations of the Jacobin Terror of the French Revolution when she says that the Terror was a precisely planned and controlled attempt to prevent further violence by the public. She also compares the French revolutionary Terror with recent fundamentalist terrorism. Book News

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