In This Review

Robespierre: A Revolutionary Life
Robespierre: A Revolutionary Life
By Peter McPhee
Yale University Press, 2012, 352 pp.

Revolutionary France in 1794 was a crucible, combining all the elements that would embody Western politics in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. All eyes were on Paris. Depending on who was looking, Maximilien Robespierre was either a hero or a villain. Robespierre, once an obscure lawyer from northern France, had in four short years transformed himself, or so it seemed, into the chief architect of the transition from the hated ancien régime to an uncertain new order. That new order was threatened by invading armies from neighboring countries, counterrevolutionaries in the Vendée region, and intense divisions within the revolutionary

This article is part of our premium archives.

To continue reading and get full access to our entire archive, you must subscribe.

  • PATRICE HIGONNET is Goelet Professor of French History at Harvard University and the author of Goodness Beyond Virtue: Jacobins During the French Revolution, among other titles.
  • More By Patrice Higonnet