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The Terror: The Merciless War for Freedom in Revolutionary France
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The Terror: The Merciless War for Freedom in Revolutionary France

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  167 ratings  ·  20 reviews

For two hundred years, the Terror has haunted the imagination of the West. The descent of the French Revolution from rapturous liberation into an orgy of apparently pointless bloodletting has been the focus of countless reflections on the often malignant nature of humanity and the folly of revolution.

David Andress, a leading historian of the French Revolution, presents a r

Paperback, First American paperback edition, 441 pages
Published 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published January 1st 2005)
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José Luís  Fernandes
This is a very good introduction to the French Revolution and the Terror, namely on its political side, yet I hoped a bit more on the War of the First Coalition and the civil wars the Convention faced. That was important because of the subtitle and justify why the rating wasn't greater.

I also loved his reflections on the reasons for the Terror, which was the result of the demonization of all those opposing to Revolutionary, but above all, Jacobine ideals, coupled with the military and economic
Steve.  g
This is a fantastic subject and I love reading about it. David Andress starts ‘The Terror’ with two big claims. One is that the conclusion to Simon Schamas brilliant book ‘Citizens’, that the revolution was just about violence,’ is not good enough’, and two, that the French Revolution like the American Revolution before it was a step forward on the road to civil rights and liberty and that the struggles that were fought were the beginning of modern politics as we recognize them and that the cent ...more
I haven't read that many books about the French Revolution, but this one must rank among the very best ones. This is History at its best. Obviously Andress not only knows all that one can know about the events that followed 1789 in France, but he's also able to communicate them in a vivid way, and he understands what they mean and represent - as much for the people who lived through those days, as for us, because everything that happened then seems to be a terrifying mirror of what can happen to ...more
Lisa Christian
This book is one of the best overviews of the Terror that I have ever read. And the easiest to read. I first discovered this gem when researching for my thesis on the development of women's citizenship during the French Revolution. I needed a refresher on the Terror, but a work that would examine the Terror from the inside out - allow historical documents and actions speak for themselves rather than being molded to an author's agenda. Andress's "The Terror" did just that. He allows those who exp ...more
Well-written, engaging account of the French Revolution's first stages (1789-1795) by an author who understands the relevance of their lessons for today's world. From the book:

"A final series of notes were taken from Saint-Just upon his arrest. ... the last note of all is telling: 'The misfortunes of the fatherland have spread across the whole country a sombre and religious hue. Silent reflection is necessary in these distressing times; it must form the disposition of every friend of the Republi
The writing is not great, but it gets four stars because of the author's approach to the subject. Rather than finger wag in a 'I would have done better fashion' (a fault as prevalent in historians as it is in humanity) Andress attempts to understand the Terror from the inside out. He takes a sober look at the threats facing France as a result of the Revolution. He explains without explaining away the evil.

Indeed, the French Revolution was 'too big too fail,' and that may have been part of the r
Brilliant. It was comprehensive, utterly readable, and totally free of the usual political posturing you find in books about this period. I really like the way the text focused on the hows and whys on both the personal and national levels, there is (as much as it is possible) clarity as to why the principal actors made the choices they did based on the information and assumptions they had, but also as to the greater political realities that they did not see. It's rare to read something that give ...more
johnny dangerously
I highly recomend this book, but it is painfully dry and awkwardly paced. The writer goes on tangents-- and while I generally approve of that, the pacing is awkward enough to give a reader whiplash. Information is not broken up in a manner conducive to straight-forward reading, and one cannot absorb the information presented without a constant alertness that makes the reading experience uncomfortable, if not downright stressful. That said, the book has some fantastic political theorizing (in my ...more
Constance Wallace
David Andress does an excellent job of expanding upon the particular points of the French Revolution. Delving into the depths of the circumstances involving the citizens, the government and the country itself during this period of french history, Andress allows the reader to experience much more than just historical rhetoric of the French Revolution by bringing to life episodes such as the September Massacres and the Jacobin manipulation of the Terror. I enjoyed reading this book, and would reco ...more
An excellent book and one I actually wished was longer.
This probably should have been my second book about the French Revolution, not the first, because this book assumes some familiarity with the players and the events. I liked it anyway and learned a great deal about some places I have visited in France and now I want to go back!
The best book to uncover what the "TERROR" is all about. I hear of it when I was a teenager and wanted to find a book which is easy to understand and I digest ever chapter twice. My Private collection.
Marty Monahan
Well worth your time.
Amber Skantz
Gave up on it. Not bad though, too close to academic reading to really be fun right now though. Will revisit, because the author makes some good points.
"Truth is better than fiction." Whoever first coined that term had to be thinking about the French Revolution. This is history at its finest.
Nov 06, 2009 Korene rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: History Buffs
Fascinating and very informative. Easy to read as well. It will make you hunger for more Revolutionary issues/characters.
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Nov 10, 2011 Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides marked it as maybe-read-sometime  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Checked this out to see if it had any info on Camille Desmoulins. Some bits and pieces, but not a coherent mini-bio.
Putting this as a second book in progress
long and a bit hard to read but well worth it
a real achievement
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Nov 22, 2015
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David Andress, a leading historian of the French Revolution, is Reader in Modern European History at the University of Portsmouth and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
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“To evoke another great phrase of the American revolutionary heritage — widely though inconclusively attributed to Thomas Jefferson — the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Such a phrase is merely trite, however, unless we consider its deeper implications. For the French revolutionaries, as for so many regimes that have succeeded them across the world up to the present day, the call for vigilance against enemies, both external and internal, was the first step on the road to the loss of liberty, and lives.

Of far more significance, and the true and tragic lesson of the epic descent into The Terror, is the summons to vigilance against ourselves — that we should not assume that we are righteous, and our enemies evil; that we can see clearly, and to others are blinded by malice or folly; that we can abrogate the fragile rights of others in the name of our own certainty and all will be well regardless.

If we do not honor the message of human rights born in the revolutions of 1776 and 1786, as the French in their case most certainly failed to do, we too are on the road to The Terror.”
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