OVERRIDE

The Terror

The Shadow of the Guillotine: France 1792--1794

Graeme Fife

St. Martin's Press

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.


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.


BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One 
Rebellion
 
To prevent a Revolution, one must want a Revolution and set about making it oneself.
Le Comte de Rivarol
 
Georges Jacques Danton was born in 1759 at Arcis-sur-Aube, in the lush countryside of the Champagne region. He grew up a boisterous farm boy and remained a countryman at heart: sucking milk straight from the cow's udder, he was attacked, when he was two, by an irate bull who gashed his face with a horn - it gave Danton the pug face and lip carved into what looked like a permanent sneer. He played truant from school, swam in the river,
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REVIEWS

Praise for The Terror

“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)

“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)

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Graeme Fife

  • 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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    Available Formats and Book Details

    The Terror

    The Shadow of the Guillotine: France 1792--1794

    Graeme Fife

    • e-Book

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    FROM THE PUBLISHER

    St. Martin's Press

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