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The Fall of Paris (France #1)

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  421 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
A vivid retelling of one of the most significant events nineteenth--century France from a masterful military historian.
Unknown Binding, 480 pages
Published October 11th 2002 by Not Avail (first published October 1st 1965)
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(showing 1-30)
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May 18, 2012 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I think about the Paris Commune, I feel a vague sort of dread. I remember visiting the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery for the first time and seeing the wall—the infamous Communards' Wall—in front of which nearly a hundred fifty insurrectionists were executed by firing squad. I was in awe of how close this distant and horrible chapter in the history of Western civilization had suddenly become—and how prosaic it all seemed: a simple stone wall with an engraved plaque hidden away in this quiet ...more
Jan Underhill
Apr 25, 2015 Jan Underhill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended by a friend in the course of a Facebook discussion in which an author I like mentioned his near-ignorance of the Franco-Prussian War. I had to admit to the same, and found it odd, as I hold a B.A. History, and while the term is familiar, I couldn't begin to discuss it in any detail. I have corrected that situation, and now find it disturbing that the events that took place in Europe within a decade of the American Civil War and hugely influenced all the major phenomena ...more
Jan 04, 2015 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Franco-Prussian War is the Commune which followed is not studied to any extent in the US. And yet our painful involvement in the two subsequent world wars would seem to make this war something that Americans should be interested in since it foreshadows so much of the 20th Century's horrors. Germany's stated need to conquer and dominate Europe is clearly articulated by Bismarck that, in my opinion, no one should have surprised by later German aggression.
What struck me, among other things, we
Tyler Lees
A long read, and a rather different topic, but well-written and fascinating. This book does not tell the story of the Franco-Prussian War; rather, it tells the story of Paris during the disastrous war and the subsequent devastating rise of the Commune and its suppression, and ultimately provides a survey of a dark episode that shapes France even today.

This book is the first in a trilogy, covering three crucial years in the formation of modern France and modern Europe: 1940 and the defeat of Fran
Apr 16, 2012 Adam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Good history should read like a good novel. This book certainly does that.

It is a long time since I read this exciting book, but little did I know that one day I should make unexpected use of it.

One of the characters described in the narrative is Frederick Reitlinger, who escaped from besieged Paris in a hot air balloon. I have discovered that this gentleman, who was sent by Thierry to plead with the English and the Austrians to intercede with the Germans to relieve their grip on Paris, w
Dec 11, 2016 Michele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Introduces a chunk of history I've never heard mentioned or alluded to, never mind taught in schools. I understand a lot more about the backdrop leading to WW1 now than I did before... and I've still got the 40 years between Prussia's victory over France & the outbreak of the First World War to read up on.

While I can vaguely see why the Paris commune's failure would radicalize some socialists, I'm not sure why anyone would bother trading one set of bastards for another (then again, I'm speak
William Dearth
Jun 23, 2012 William Dearth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french
I gave this book five stars not so much for the quality of the writing but for the content. This is a very sad and disturbing account of a social catastrophe that rivals the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the 900 day siege of Leningrad starting in 1941. The role of women is particularly interesting in the scope of their brutality that reminds one of women's role during the French Reign of Terror in 1793.

This book does qualify as a "page turner" but for me, Horne's style is a touch awkward at tim
Jun 28, 2015 Mshelton50 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent story of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War and the time of Commune. Should be of interest to anyone interested in France and French history.
Oct 05, 2008 Sharilyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Currently reading. A nice readable history of Paris. I'm really enjoying this.
Oct 18, 2008 Alison is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
My love of Paris lead me to this beat up paperback at the English bookstore in Toulouse...
Mar 06, 2017 Dana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book through a circuitous route of reading. My foray into books dealing with World War II brought me back to World War I, since the two events are so closely related in both time and reason. To understand World War I, I needed to stretch back even further, to the Franco Prussian War of 1870 and the subsequent Paris Commune of 1871. Unfortunately, there are not many available books to choose from and the only one I could obtain was this book by Alistair Horne.
Thankfully, this book p
Dec 18, 2014 Ian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of a trilogy of books written by the author, examining key aspects of the 3 major wars between France and Germany that occurred between 1870 and 1940 - a period of time that is the same as that between the end of WWII and today. The Franco-Prussian War (perhaps more accurately termed the Franco-German War) was a subject I knew little about, although I did know that France was comprehensively defeated and that the war precipitated the unification of Germany. This book does not seek to examine ...more
Tim Robinson
Jun 14, 2014 Tim Robinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
In the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, Bismarck and Moltke inflicted a resounding defeat on the French and changed the balance of power in Europe forever. They created a united Germany complete with the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine freshly seized from France. But it was not the walkover that it sometimes seems. The French had their chances and under better leadership, they might have severed the Prussian supply lines or broken out of the siege of Paris.

The siege was a long one and the rich dine
Michael Cayley
Feb 16, 2017 Michael Cayley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A book focused on the debacle of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1, its effects on Paris, and the subsequent brutal but short-lived Paris Commune. It is full of detail, rather too much for me, and of many extracts from diaries and the like which at times felt like padding. The book clearly reflects a huge amount of research, but I would have preferred it to have been shorter and the research to have been rather more distilled into a somewhat higher-level narrative. There are also many references ...more
Jim Pfluecke
Jun 28, 2010 Jim Pfluecke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. Taking place during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, this book follows events in Paris (with an introductory chapter and a quick outline of the course of the war) during the war and the first few months of peace. It is a narrative with some analysis and does not claim to be a definitive work on either the war or the Paris Commune.

What makes it good is the authors writing, qoutes from the participants, and the "story" itself. The first half of the book covers the Pruss
Frederick Frankel
May 13, 2015 Frederick Frankel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is old school history, wherein the author tries to give as impartial an account as possible. The subject is the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, and the subsequent rise and fall of the Paris Commune in the first few months of 1871.

I'll admit to being fascinated by modern French history, so this was irresistible for me.

For everyone else, the story of 1870-1871 is of interest on account of two things: it holds the key to the origin of the Franco-German hatred that tore apart Europe through 1945,
“The Fall of Paris” while focused on the long siege of Paris in the winter of 1870-1871, then on the rise and fall of the Commune which resulted, is decidedly Francocentric with little attention paid to the Prussians or to the general balance of power in Europe. Setting the mood and descriptions of quotidian detail seem to be Horne's primary objective, followed closely by a brisk, almost novelized story, with analysis a distant third.
Consequently, it is an excellent introduction to the subject a
Feb 01, 2010 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This history of the Siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War and the months of the Paris Commune is a fascinating read. I had never heard about the Commune, until I visited Paris last Summer. I was shocked to find out that there had been a Socialist/Anarchist Revolution in Paris in 1871 and had to know more about it. I looked around and this seemed to be the only English-language book I could find on the topic.

This history does a good job of making the story as readable as any novel and the
Feb 07, 2012 Gregory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A history of one of the first western socialist/democratic experiments (which quickly went awry) in the late 19th Century. Fascinating study... many of our modern ideas about democracy and implementation of social policies came out of the Paris Commune of 1870 (separation of church and state, free education, women's rights, gender equality, and so forth). Anyone interested in the history of human rights should read this book (first published in 1965).
Una Dimitrijevic
A very enjoyable historical text retracing the events leading up to the Prussian siege of Paris, the siege itself and the civil war that followed. Told through its key players, major events and attention-grabbing anecdotes. My personal favourite, that of a chicken, the sole survivor of its kind of the siege during which all available animals (rats, dogs, zoo elephants...) were gobbled up. Her name was Una, she was much-loved by her owner and is now stuffed in a display-case somewhere in England.
Mar 01, 2015 Raja rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dropped
I added this book to my shelf long ago, on the mistaken impression that it described the real events that were the basis for Les Miserables. Once I realized, three quarters of the way through, that this was not so, my desire to keep slogging through the endless litany of inept French zealots and the British author's evident contempt for the lot of them was vastly diminished, until the book itself dropped from my hands and I could go no further.
Jun 09, 2011 Sergio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first part, The Siege, was a notch below of what I am used to from Mr. Horne; it is a good historical narrative of the Prussian conquest of France in 1870. The second part, The Commune, is a dramatic telling of the Parisian citizen's short lived attempt to govern the city sans central French authority; of course, civil war breaks out and Paris burns.
Jul 14, 2016 Jan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic account of both the German siege and the ensuing intra-french uprising. Elegantly and exhaustively based on contemporary sources the author successfully creates the contrast between the fairly 'light' siege and the horror of the Commune with extensive and bloody urban warfare sweeping across Paris.
It was a bit dry at times, but I learned a lot about the Siege and the Commune. For example, when the government forces took over the whole city, revenge was brutal: between 20 and 30,000 killed within weeks! Also, any kind of hope for a constitutional monarchy died on the barricades. I also enjoyed the local geography since I reside near Paris.
Aug 02, 2011 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great old-school historian, Horne's book is richly detailed with first-hand accounts of the events, and remains relatively 'objective' to the conflicting forces, motives, etc. that drove France in 1870/71. I'd highly recommend Horne's "Savage War for Peace" (re: Algerian independence) for anyone interested.
A thorough and readable account of the Franco-Prussian War, the siege of Paris and the Paris Commune. Horne adds an interesting element by frequently considering the experiences of the British and American communities in Paris at the time, and plenty of anecdotal evidence enlivens the wider framework. A good start, I should think.
Sep 11, 2008 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: francebooks
Great at times, very detailed and fascinating (during the siege), but dense and hard to follow at others (the commune). I love the descriptions of personalities and quirky events, but I occasionally can't keep track of them. I have given up, but perhaps not definitively.
Antonio Yaniz
Nov 26, 2007 Antonio Yaniz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History Buffs
For anyone who is a history buff or a Francophile, this masterfully written account of the darkest days in French History really grabs you in and involves you in one of the greatest humiliations ever to be-fall a modern industrialized nation.
Martin Noel
Sep 01, 2014 Martin Noel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant account of what happened and very unbiased. I enjoyed reading it and will read the complete trilogy. Incredibly well researched
Lauren Albert
A fascinating narrative about the Siege and the Commune and the intimate bond between the first and the second. Law of unintended consequences.
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Sir Alistair Allan Horne was a British journalist, biographer and historian of Europe, especially of 19th and 20th century France. He wrote more than 20 books on travel, history, and biography. He won the following awards: Hawthornden Prize, 1963, for The Price of Glory; Yorkshire Post Book of the Year Prize and Wolfson Literary Award, both 1978, both for A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962; ...more
More about Alistair Horne...

Other Books in the Series

France (3 books)
  • The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916
  • To Lose a Battle: France 1940

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