William Doyle

Robespierre’s Rival

Danton

By

Jonathan Cape 294pp £20 order from our bookshop

Why are we so fascinated by Danton? Perhaps because we know so little about him. We know he was a powerful orator, and popular on the streets of revolutionary Paris. We know that, with the enemy at the gates, he made stirring speeches urging the French to save their revolution by being tirelessly bold. We know, above all, that in the spring of 1794 he questioned whether a policy of Terror was doing more harm than good, and paid the price by being guillotined himself. He thus died a martyr to humanity, struck down by his polar opposite, the frigid and inflexible Robespierre.

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