Author(s): John Merriman
The Paris Commune lasted for only 64 days in 1871, but during that short time it gave rise to some of the grandest political dreams of the nineteenth century-before culminating in horrific violence. Following the disastrous French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, hungry and politically disenchanted Parisians took up arms against their government in the name of a more just society. They expelled loyalists and soldiers and erected barricades in the streets. In Massacre, John Merriman introduces a cast of inimitable Communards-from les petroleuses (female incendiaries) to the painter Gustave Courbet-whose idealism fueled a revolution. And he vividly recreates the Commune's chaotic and bloody end when 30,000 troops stormed the city, burning half of Paris and executing captured Communards en masse. A stirring evocation of the spring when Paris was ablaze with cannon fire and its citizens were their own masters, Massacre reveals how the indomitable spirit of the Commune shook the very foundations of Europe.
John Merriman is the Charles Seymour Professor of History at Yale University. He is the author of many books, including his most recent The Dynamite Club: How a Bombing in Fin-de-Siecle Paris Ignited the Age of Modern Terror, the classic History of Modern Europe, and The Stones of Balazuc.