Catherine Peters

The Day He Missed the Train

The Murderer of Warren Street: The True Story of a Nineteenth-Century Revolutionary


Hutchinson 372pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

The strange life story of the forgotten 19th-century revolutionary Emmanuel Barthélemy is well worth the telling, and Marc Mulholland tells it well, though the title of his new book is misleading, suggesting a lurid thriller rather than a serious biography. Barthélemy was once famous, featuring in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables under his real name. He acted as a barricade commander in Paris during the June Days, which marked the end of the 1848 revolution in France. He was something of an enigma: unwavering in his commitment to revolutionary action throughout his life, he was prepared to kill and die for the cause, but actually ended his life on the public gallows outside Newgate Prison for a murder that seems to have had nothing to do with politics.

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