The Giant of the French Revolution tells the story of Dantonvisionary leader and tragic heroin a work The Economist called “a gripping story, beautifully told.”
The Giant of the French Revolution
Danton, A Life
978-0-8021-4541-3 • $17.95 • Paperback • July 2011
One of the Western world’s most epic uprisings, the French Revolution brought an end to an absolute monarchy that had ruled for almost a thousand years. And George-Jacques Danton was a driving force behind it. In the first biography of Danton in over forty years, the historian David Lawday reveals the tragic, larger-than-life figure who joined the fray at the storming of the Bastille in 1789 at age twenty-nine and was dead five years later.
Danton’s booming voice was a perpetual roll of thunder that excited bourgeois reformers and the mobs alike; his impassioned speeches, often hours long, drove the sansculottes to action and kept the revolution alive at the critical moment when it stumbled and risked collapse. 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 lost his grip, becoming one 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 hastily approved a gag motion and convicted him before he could rally the crowd in his favor.
In vivid, almost novelistic prose worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy, Lawday leads us from Danton’s humble roots deep in France profonde to the streets of revolutionary Paris, where this political legend acted on the operatic stage of the revolution that altered Western civilization.