Words of Fire, Deeds of Blood: The Mob, the Monarchy, and the French Revolution

Olivier Bernier, Author Little Brown and Company $21.95 (452p) ISBN 978-0-316-09206-7
Clacking along like a tumbrel on its way to the guillotine, this engrossing history of the French Revolution starts with the storming of the Bastille in 1789 and ends with Marie Antoinette's execution in 1793. Within these four tumultuous years, an entire social-political order crumbled. Though the vivid narrative occasionally threatens to collapse into a royal-family drama, Bernier ably works in the clash of personalities, political maneuvers, upheavals in daily life, the friction between classes jockeying for power. The author of Lafayette and Secrets of Marie Antoinette hands out no bonbons. We see Marat, counterposed to a self-deluded, myopic Louis XVI, lying about the supposed dangers of a counter-revolutionary threat; a conceited Lafayette ``lacking both common sense and decisiveness''; and reactionary Catholic priests, here held responsible for the ``so-called religious disturbances'' that swept the countryside. Photos. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
Paperback - 452 pages - 978-0-385-41333-6
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