Book Robespierre : a revolutionary life / Peter McPhee.
Publication year: c2012.
Call Number DC146.R6 M38 2012
Media class: Book
Publisher: New Haven : Yale University Press
ISBN: 9780300118117 0300118112
Extent: xix, 299 p.,  p. of plates : map ; 24 cm.
For some historians and biographers, Maximilien Robespierre (1758-1794) was a great revolutionary martyr who succeeded in leading the French Republic to safety in the face of overwhelming military odds. For many others, he was the first modern dictator, a fanatic who instigated the murderous Reign of Terror in 1793-1794. This masterful biography combines new research into Robespierre's dramatic life with a deep understanding of society and the politics of the French Revolution to arrive at a fresh understanding of the man, his passions, and his tragic shortcomings. The author gives special attention to Robespierre's formative years and the development of an iron will in a frail boy conceived outside wedlock and on the margins of polite provincial society. Exploring how these experiences formed the young lawyer who arrived in Versailles in 1789, the author discovers not the cold, obsessive Robespierre of legend, but a man of passion with close but platonic friendships with women. Soon immersed in revolutionary conflict, he suffered increasingly lengthy periods of nervous collapse correlating with moments of political crisis, yet Robespierre was tragically unable to step away from the crushing burdens of leadership. Did his ruthless, uncompromising exercise of power reflect a descent into madness in his final year of life? The author reevaluates the ideology and reality of 'the Terror,' what Robespierre intended, and whether it represented an abandonment or a reversal of his early liberalism and sense of justice.
A serious, grown-up, hardworking little boy : Arras 1758-69 -- An extremely strong desire to succeed : Paris 1769-81 -- Such a talented man : Arras 1781-84 -- Bachelorhood seems to encourage rebelliousness : Arras 1784-89 -- We are winning : Versailles 1789 -- Daring to clean out the Augean stables : Paris 1789-91 -- Numerous and implacable enemies : Arras 1791 -- The vengeance of the people : Paris 1791-92 -- Did you want a revolution without revolution? : Paris 1792-93 -- A complete regeneration : Paris, July-December 1793 -- Men with changing tongues : Paris, January-June 1794 -- The unhappiest man alive : Paris, July 1794 -- That modern Procrustes.