Anna Gibson's Reviews > Vive la Revolution: A Stand-up History of the French Revolution

Vive la Revolution by Mark Steel
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Aug 10, 2010

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Vive La Revolution: A Stand-Up History of the French Revolution by Mark Steel is a casual history of the French Revolution told in a conversational and comedic tone. Vive La Revolution covers the basics of the French Revolution, including its origins, major events and players and the subsequent consequences and results of the revolution. Steel's presentation of the revolution is noticeably sympathetic towards the revolution and most of its supporting figures. Some readers may find this refreshing, considering the glut of books in recent years which are more sympathetic toward the French royal family. However, Steel's argument that negative portrayals of "pro" revolutionary figures are mostly based in biased myth and legend is sometimes lost when Steel relies on legends or myths in his descriptions of aristocratic or royal figures. I would have preferred for the author to point out the inaccuracies of popular conceptions of all figures of the revolution, not just the ones he personally supported. The book also occasionally suffers from a lack of basic fact checking, such as mixing up the sister of Louis XVI with the sister of Marie Antoinette and then later, the niece of Louis XVI.

Despite these flaws, the book does manage to cover the revolution in a way that is engaging, especially for casual readers. I would mainly recommend Vive La Revolution to readers looking for something easy to read about the French Revolution, despite its occasional flaws, or readers who are fans of Mark Steel's comedic writing.
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