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The Giant of the French Revolution
by David Lawday
One of the Western world's most epic uprisings, the French Revolution brought an end to an absolute monarchy that had ruled for almost a thousand years. And George-Jacques Danton was a driving force behind it. In the first biography of Danton in over forty years, the historian David Lawday reveals the tragic, larger-than-life figure who joined the fray at the storming of t ...more
ebook, 0 pages
Published July 6th 2010 by Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
(first published August 1st 2009)
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On a fine spring afternoon in Paris three centuries ago the extraordinary life of the brawny hero of the sans-culottes, the man who had led revolutionary France through it's difficult infancy, Georges-Jacques Danton, was ended on the guillotine. His mighty voice, once the brashest trumpet of radicalism, which had helped to condemn a king to the same fate, was silenced, for advocating moderation and humanity amid the growing paranoia and violence of the revolution. Facing death not with courage, ...more
The French Revolution is quite an interesting and insane period of time. Danton was in the center of the Revolution from the very start, from the inside Courts of the Royals to the end with his execution. Egging on the Revolutionists and seemingly indifferent to the amount of bloodshed, even his own, he created the mechanism for terror that others took over and put into overdrive. How France survived this period is beyond me-they were executing leaders of the Royals, the leaders of the initial r ...more
Jan 24, 2011 Alexandra rated it 4 of 5 stars · review of another edition
Lawday admits at the start that this is a slightly romanticised history, because Danton committed almost nothing to paper. There are no footnotes, although there are references at the back giving some indication of where ideas and quotes came from. And it is a bit romantic: Lawday sometimes lets himself go on flights of descriptive fancy about the streets of Paris and the countryside around Arcis, Danton's birthplace; and he gets a bit smoochy over Danton and his wife Gabrielle's relationship.
This is a well written volume outlining the brief life of one of the leaders of the French Revolution, George-Jacques Danton, a person large of size and large in his love of life. His misshapen face and outsized voice are tools in Lawday's analysis of the man. A couple caveats: I am not normally well disposed to adducing thoughts to historical figures, but it seems to work fairly well in this book; there is some hyperbole here and there (could Danton's voice really travel as far as alleged?).
One of the most emotional biographies I have ever read. Lawday's mixture of fact, quotations, and prose creates a truly moving book about one of the most vital figures of the French Revolution. It is refreshing to find a writer who can talk about both Robespierre and Danton without demonizing the other. Overall, a fantastic read. I would recommend this to anyone who loves history in general. Guest appearance by Thomas Paine makes it all the better.
Insightful account of the makings of the French Revolution. I'm not sure how the author found the personal accounts and emotions that make up this book. But It definitely gave me a deeper understanding of the French Revolution and the people involved.
David Lawday is a native of London, educated there and at Oxford. He is a writer and journalist who was a correspondent for twenty years with The Economist. He is now based in Paris where his son and daughter grew up and where he lives with his French wife.More about David Lawday...