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The French Revolution, say its publishers, is the first in a series of books styled as ""History in the Making."" The plan is to assemble in book form writings of persons who found themselves on the scene of notable historical events and later recorded the things that had impressed them in diaries, letters, memoranda, and other documents. ""About 50,000 contemporary reports on the Revolution are known to be in existence, which means that a hundred volumes like this one could be compiled without any text being repeated."" The authors ""do not claim to have made the best possible selection"", but since one (Mile Finissier), is a historian and the other (M. Pernoud) is a journalist, they had a reasonable basis of experience upon which to rest their choice of reportage, and an interesting degree of objectivity is the result. There are quotations from those who defended the Bastille and those who were freed from it, those who flourished the Tricolor and those who feared its meaning for their very heads. Napoleon, Robespierre, LaFayette, and Madame Royale, the daughter of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, are all contributors in varying lengths, but less august personages such as Louis' valet are also given space to depict a tableau by turns sordid or touching. Anyone who has watched ""See It Now"" on television should be able to imagine the figures in this book clothed in warm flesh and period costumes. This well-worn subject has probably never fared better in print. A chronological guide to dates, a detailed source list, and a complete index increase the work's value as an educational tool.

Pub Date: March 27th, 1961
Publisher: Putnam