The Life and Death of the Paris Commune

Book - 2014
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"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"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group, [2014]
ISBN: 9780465020171
Branch Call Number: 944.0812 MERRIMA
Characteristics: xxvi, 327 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm


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Jul 23, 2018

"Property, religion, and society were once more saved."-journalist and Commune member Pierre Vesinier
An incredible story of an influential and important historical event that I knew nothing about. My grasp of French history and politics is pretty limited, but I picked this up after reading a book about the French Revolution. There's no point in trying to paraphrase the convoluted history (Napoleon's nephew, Prussians, royal families.), but the book is about a brief period in 1871 when a commune was established in Paris and was then brutally crushed by French soldiers. Yale professor John Merriman is firmly on the Communards side and paints a vivid portrait of the individuals on both sides (Including the artist Gustave Courbet.) and the complex politics and ideology. It can be hard to keep track of all the players, but it is a fascinating book about an event that should be more widely known.
Adam Gopnick's piece on it from the New Yorker:

Apr 07, 2016

Excellent account of the commune and the ruthless offensive that ended it. Incredibly detailed and down-to-earth.


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