Paul Johnson

Merde En Bas De Soie

Talleyrand: Betrayer and Saviour of France


John Murray 448pp £30 order from our bookshop

One reason why Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (1754–1838) has proved such a popular subject for biography is that there is plenty of meat in him. His life was long and spanned a tumultuous period; he was active almost throughout it, and often centre-stage. He was born the same year as the decapitated French King, Louis XVI, and was a few months older than the tragic Marie-Antoinette. Yet he survived into Victorian times, dying the year after the young queen came to the throne, the same in which Dickens published Nicholas Nickleby and Surtees his Jorrocks’s Jaunts and Jollities.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Something of an 'eccentric billionaire’s hobby': reviews 'The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and… ,
    • "At the age of fifteen, drunk on stolen Chardonnay or stoned on pot at a swimming party, the thoughts that come imm… ,
    • For the latest Bookends, here's Alan Taylor musing on his stint as an assistant librarian. ,
    • A ‘pretentious ass and impotent arriviste’ who surrounded himself with ‘degenerates, hooligans, childish layabouts,… ,
    • . reviews 'Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life' by ,
    • "As Beevor shows, it was one of the most daring, dangerous and fiercely fought operations of the whole war. It was… ,
    • "The characters are very rich and very male, with astronomical ambitions. The potted biographies in this book sugge… ,