A useful contribution to understanding the terrible and prolonged tragedy that engulfed France.




Meticulous, readable account of the French Revolution’s poisonous politics and blood-soaked methods of conflict resolution.

Author of several scholarly works about the Revolution, Andress (History/Univ. of Portsmouth) draws upon his expertise to successfully expand on the characters and forces involved in one of history’s most significant events. He places particular emphasis on its most violent phase, the Reign of Terror (1792–94), which claimed thousands of lives. Beginning with a dramatic, highly readable account of Louis XVI’s flight to Varennes and ending with the arrival on the scene of Napoleon Bonaparte, Andress provides a cornucopia of detail about the people and events leading to a dictatorship that allowed mass detentions and executions of perceived enemies of the Revolution. Driven by real and imagined fears of enemies within and outside France, the vicious cycle of killings was noted for the ferocity and ruthlessness of the players involved in this tragic internecine battle to the death (most infamously by guillotine). Murders and campaigns of devastation were carried out to quell counter-revolutionaries; in the Vendée region alone, more than 200,000 perished. Intense factionalism bitterly divided the political leadership. In the end, the Revolution turned on itself, and the blade of the dreaded guillotine claimed its leading light, Maximilien Robespierre. Girordins and Montagnards, St. Just and Robespierre are but a few of the dizzying array of factions and notables crowding the narrative. Mercifully for those unfamiliar with the history, Andress includes a timeline, glossary and list of characters to help the reader navigate through a myriad of information.

A useful contribution to understanding the terrible and prolonged tragedy that engulfed France.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-374-27341-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2005

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?


For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet