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Attempting to reconcile what he sees as DantonÖs essentially humane nature with the Terror he helped to unleash, former Economist correspondent Lawday (NapoleonÖs Master: A Life of Prince Talleyrand) gives us not only a fine biography but a moving description of revolutionary tragedy as well. The man Lawday calls the "gentle giant of terror" was a giant physically and in his impact on European history. Danton (1759–1794) took charge of the Revolution when it faced failure and saw violence as the only way to save it and avert greater violence if Britain invaded and royalists sought vengeance. Basically, a family man longing for his country village, he was responsible for the overthrow of the monarchy and for the use of extreme violence against the RevolutionÖs enemies, yet he quietly sought moderation when possible. Riding the revolutionary wave, Danton attempted to stay afloat as his archenemy, Robespierre, manipulated events. DantonÖs loss to RobespierreÖs bloodthirstiness was inevitable and he was condemned to the guillotine. An exciting history, gracefully written and well researched, but slightly weakened by occasional attempts, in the absence of documentation, to imagine what DantonÖs thoughts and motives might have been. Illus., 1 map.
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ISBN-10:  0802119336
ISBN-13:  978-0802119339
Author:  David Lawday
Genre:  European history
Publisher:  Grove Press
Date Published:  July 6, 2010
Format:  Hardcover
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review by . July 09, 2011
Splendid biography of one of the key figures in the French Revolution.
Clearly the time had come.  The people of France had grown weary of an increasingly repressive monarchy that had stood for more than a thousand years.  Winds of change were in the air and buoyed by the success of the American Revolution "across the pond" courageous leaders like George-Jacques Danton stepped forward to demand that the people be given a much greater say in the affairs of their nation.  How to go about accomplishing this goal was a subject of great debate among …
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The Giant of the French Revolution: Danton, A Life
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