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.
“Strongly evokes the sense of isolation that fuelled the violence of those two years.”---BBC History Magazine (UK)
“Pulls readers into the frightening world of Robespierre and the horror he inflicted on the suffering population he was aiming to save.”---History Today (UK)
“Fife re-creates the horror of the time, offering readers a rare window into the past.”---The Good Book Guide (UK)
“A powerful and frightening account---based on fresh research and eyewitness accounts---of the great terror that swept France after the Revolution.”---Publishing News (UK)
“Graeme Fife’s engrossing narrative captures the perverted idealism that fuelled the Terror and vividly portrays the atmosphere of fear, panic, suspicion, and betrayal that gripped the populace.”---Yorkshire Evening Post (UK)
“These truly terrible happenings that convulsed and very nearly ruined France are brought vividly to life by Graeme Fife in The Terror, who brilliantly re-created the deadly, paranoid atmosphere of the time. . . . An exceptional work that will be welcomed by all students of the French Revolution and its terrible aftermath.”---Chester & District Standard (UK)
The Shadow of the Guillotine: France 1792--1794