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Massacre: The Life and Death of the Paris Commune

John Merriman



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Basic Books
01 April 2014
The Paris Commune lasted for only 64 days in 1871, but during that short time it gave rise to some of the grandest political dreams of the nineteenth century-before culminating in horrific violence.

Following the disastrous French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, hungry and politically disenchanted Parisians took up arms against their government in the name of a more just society. They expelled loyalists and soldiers and erected barricades in the streets. In Massacre , John Merriman introduces a cast of inimitable Communards-from les petroleuses (female incendiaries) to the painter Gustave Courbet-whose idealism fueled a revolution. And he vividly recreates the Commune's chaotic and bloody end when 30,000 troops stormed the city, burning half of Paris and executing captured Communards en masse.

A stirring evocation of the spring when Paris was ablaze with cannon fire and its citizens were their own masters, Massacre reveals how the indomitable spirit of the Commune shook the very foundations of Europe.
By:   John Merriman
Imprint:   Basic Books
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 239mm,  Width: 167mm,  Spine: 31mm
Weight:   584g
ISBN:   9780465020171
ISBN 10:   0465020178
Pages:   360
Publication Date:   01 April 2014
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

John Merriman is the Charles Seymour Professor of History at Yale University and the author of several books, including Massacre: The Life and Death of the Paris Commune, The Dynamite Club: How a Bombing in Fin-de-Siecle Paris Ignited the Age of Modern Terror, and the classic History of Modern Europe. He is the recipient of Yale's Byrnes/Sewell Teaching Prize, a French Docteur Honoris Causa, and speaks frequently at universities across the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Australia.

Reviews for Massacre: The Life and Death of the Paris Commune

Booklist [A]n eloquent, frequently moving and disturbing account... [A] fine recounting of an episode that hung over and haunted Europe for subsequent decades. Maya Jasanoff, author of Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World A story of incandescent ideals, stunning violence, and extraordinary people. In Massacre, John Merriman brings his prodigious understanding of France and masterful narrative gifts to describe the ten weeks that changed Paris and prefigured the upheavals of our times. Read against the headlines from Cairo or Kiev, this book could not be more timely, or better told. Steven Englund, author of Napoleon: A Political Life Massacre is an absorbing and very moving read. John Merriman has found exactly the right unemotional tone and mastery of detail--including many new stories heretofore unpublished--to produce the best popular history of the Commune, in English or French, in a generation. Elizabeth Kostova, author of The Swan Thieves and The Historian A rigorous, vivid book that brings to life the idealism, the horror, and--particularly--the people of the Paris Commune. Massacre fills a gap and will draw new readers to this timely topic. Jonathan Sperber, author of Karl Marx: A Nineteenth Century Life Dream of emancipation, nightmare of repression--the Paris Commune was a focal point of the political imagination of nineteenth century Europe. John Merriman's new book brings vividly to life the hopes and fears, the passions and hatreds and the social and political struggles that inspired a famous revolutionary regime and led to its violent destruction. Peter McPhee, author of Robespierre: A Revolutionary Life Irresistible reading. A master historian captures the idealism and the cruelty, the heroism and the horror, of a civil war that shaped modern Europe. David A. Bell, Lapidus Professor of History, Princeton University John Merriman has written this history of the Paris Commune with his usual verve, clarity, and encyclopedic knowledge of French history. But above all, what sets the book apart is the sympathy for ordinary Parisians that breathes through Merriman's narrative, and the piercing manner in which he conveys the tragedy that befell them in 1871.

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