The Giant of the French Revolution: Danton, a Life

The Giant of the French Revolution: Danton, a Life

by David Lawday
     
 

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One of the Western world’s most epic uprisings, the French Revolution ended a monarchy that had ruled for almost a thousand years. George-Jacques Danton was the driving force behind it. In the first biography of Danton in over forty years, David Lawday reveals the larger-than-life figure who joined the fray at the storming of the Bastille in 1789 and was dead

Overview

One of the Western world’s most epic uprisings, the French Revolution ended a monarchy that had ruled for almost a thousand years. George-Jacques Danton was the driving force behind it. In the first biography of Danton in over forty years, David Lawday reveals the larger-than-life figure who joined the fray at the storming of the Bastille in 1789 and was dead five years later.
To hear Danton speak, his booming voice a roll of thunder, excited bourgeois reformers and the street alike; his impassioned speeches, often hours long, drove the sans culottes to action and kept the Revolution alive. But as the newly appointed Minister of Justice, Danton struggled to steer the increasingly divided Revolutionary government. Working tirelessly to halt the bloodshed of Robespierre’s Terror, he ultimately became another of its victims. True to form, Danton did not go easily to the guillotine; at his trial, he defended himself with such vehemence that the tribunal convicted him before he could rally the crowd in his favor.
In vivid, almost novelistic prose, Lawday leads us from Danton’s humble roots to the streets of Revolutionary Paris, where this political legend acted on the stage of the revolution that altered Western civilization.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Lawday gives us not only a fine biography but a moving description of revolutionary tragedy as well…An exciting history, gracefully written and well researched.”—Publishers Weekly

“Lawday presents an absorbing portrait of a celebrated victim…he viscerally recreates the look and smell of the fevered Paris Danton moved about, setting the mood for the climax to Danton’s call for moderation: his execution in 1794. A page-turner for history readers, guaranteed.”—Gilbert Taylor, Booklist

The Giant of the French Revolution sweeps one along in a gathering floodtide of rich description, brilliant characterization, subtle political analysis and breathless suspense. David Lawday has written a masterful, spine-tingling thriller - except that every word in this compulsively readable book is true.”—Mark Danner, author of Stripping Bare the Body: Politics Violence War

“Lawday creates some great set pieces and striking turning points…He is able to capture the atmosphere of the early Revolution: its inflammable mix of devilment and righteousness, reckless selflessness and flagrant self-promotion. He sees that Danton was more than the sum of his crimes, the sum of his secrets; he celebrates him, ‘large heart and violent impulses in irresolvable conflict’.” —Hilary Mantel, The London Review of Books

“The author ably assembles a convincing portrait of a man of giant stature, appetite, ability and ego…a clear account of one man’s failure to recognize the fanged creatures that swim in waves of passion and popularity.”—Kirkus

“A gripping story, beautifully told.”—The Economist

“Immensely readable…Lawday’s book is ultimately meticulously researched and thoroughly footnoted throughout. Indeed, alongside its thought-provoking reading of Danton, this biography offers an excellent entrée for the uninitiated into the history and politics of the French Revolution.” —Síofra Pierse, Irish Times

“David Lawday strides confidently into the fray and brings back a compelling, highly readable, and very timely account of a paradoxical champion of humanity pitted against ideological fanaticism.”—David Coward, The Independent (U.K.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802197023
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
07/06/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
File size:
4 MB

Meet the Author

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.

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