Interesting reinterpretation of the concept of "terror" and the French Revolution.
Terror: The French Revolution and Its Demons
Publisher: Polity; 1st edition (January 10, 2022)
Paperback : 250 pages
ISBN-13 : 9781509548361
At the heart of how history sees the French Revolution lies the enigma of the Terror. How did this archetypal revolution, founded on the principles of liberty and equality and the promotion of human rights, arrive at circumstances where it carried out the violent and terrible repression of its opponents? The guillotine, initially designed to be a ‘humane’ form of capital punishment, became a formidable instrument of political repression and left a deep imprint, not only on how we see the Revolution, but also on how France’s image has been depicted in the world.
This book reconstructs the Terror in all its complexity. It shows that the popular view of a so-called ‘system of terror’ was retrospectively invented by the group of revolutionaries who overthrew Robespierre, as a way of trying to exonerate themselves from culpability. What we think of as ‘the Terror’ is best understood as an improvised and sometimes chaotic response to events, based on the urgent needs of a revolutionary government confronted by a succession of political and military crises. It was a government of ‘exception’ – a crisis government.
Terror brings together a wealth of factual elements, along with recent thinking on the ideological, emotional and tactical dimensions of revolutionary politics, to throw new light on how the phenomenon of terror came to demonise the image and memory of the French Revolution. It will be essential reading for students and scholars of the French Revolution and for anyone concerned with the ways in which political conflict can descend into violence.
It is already out in the language of liberty, thanks for pointing out this book again, maybe also of interest
Almost finished, the infighting of leading revolutionaries is quite insane, the "purge" by denounciation and far fetched reasons, just to get rid of - one cannot even say political opponents is hardly to comprehend other that collective madness to a certain extend. Though the authors claim, that Robespierre was one of many, and that a lot of later politicians who fully supported to road of terror denounced him to focus on him and to distract from their action, Maxim Robespierre still play in my view one of the most dominant roles of distruction the political leaders till none was left when consequently he himself was guillotined.
Then the concept of virtue and seemingly the highest virtue, or prooving it would be to die on the guillotine. A bizare logic of the then revolutionaries, but how come that in case virtue is such an ideal, that denounciation is seemingly in high esteem as well, and in the end there are only two ways out, either you are inocent or to be killed.
So Robespierre et al. - men of virtue and on the other side also ruthless dictators?
the authors argue quite a lot about the meaning of the word terror and that - unless of today - it wasn't necessarily always seen in a negative way, I have to say that I am not that convinced.
also maybe of interest
here directly to the video
And for those whose knowledge of the Revolution is sketchy the book has a nicely detailed 12 page chronology of the era of the Convention
The French edition was ed in the recent book on Thermidor.
I'm half-way through it and its very interesting (but I take more interest in the politics of things).
actucaly just bought it for my kindle
Now that sounds interesting.