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The Fall of Paris: The Siege and the Commune 1870-71 Paperback – November 27, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0141030630 ISBN-10: 0141030631 Edition: Revised

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Revised edition (November 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141030631
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141030630
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #183,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This classic work . . . is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the civil war that still stirs the soul of France."
-Evening Standard, London

About the Author

One of Britain's greatest historians, Sir Alistair Horne, CBE, is the author of several famous books on French history as well as a two-volume life of Harold Macmillan.

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Customer Reviews

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The complex relationships that 'good' historical narratives need to develop are very well constructed by Horne.
toma@dynamite.com.au
It was a bitter fight of Frenchman against Frenchman, over 20,000 dead, far more than in the more well known French revolution.
John P. Jones III
I'm trying to think of a more elegant way to put it, but sometimes you've just gotta say: this is a really good book.
Andrew S. Rogers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Andrew S. Rogers VINE VOICE on February 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
I'm trying to think of a more elegant way to put it, but sometimes you've just gotta say: this is a really good book. "The Fall of Paris" is a remarkable job of storytelling, but it's also a primer of how a talented researcher and writer can synthesize an incredible amount of information from a diverse range of sources and turn it into a densely-packed, but still highly readable, narrative. The author balances broad-view scene-painting with an eye for personality and detail. In short, it's a very impressive work.

In an era when the sanguinary nature of the French Revolution is downplayed ("excesses") or fading from memory, the even more bloody life and death of the Paris Commune seem already long forgotten. For a number of reasons, that's not a good thing. The role of the Franco-Prussian War and the Commune in stoking the fires of 75 years of German-French animosity is only the most obvious example. Less apparent, but just as important, is the example the Commune provided to future "leaders of the people" like Lenin and Stalin, and the way it transformed internal French politics.

This book is an excellent work in its own right, and deserves to be read simply on the merits of what it says about the events themselves. But the value of Horne's series of titles on Franco-German conflicts (of which this is the first of three books), and the influence these events had in their time and continue to have in ours, make an even stronger case for spending time in these pages.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By toma@dynamite.com.au on August 25, 1998
Format: Paperback
Horne has written a wonderful narrative of the events preceding and the events of the Siege of Paris in 1870-71. Horne's style is captivating and I found that I could not put the book down. The complex relationships that 'good' historical narratives need to develop are very well constructed by Horne. The attention to minute detail is a strong point of this book.
A throughly researched and emminently readable account. Highly recommended.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Paul J. Curley on March 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
Horne's style makes the story of the Paris siege and commune every bit as compelling, fast-moving and vivid as the best fiction. You get a real sense of the various characters of the period, the opportunistic, the proud, the inept, the comical and the horrific. Brings this exciting, tumultuous time to life with poetic language and insightful observations. I am looking forward to reading more books by this author.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By ct reader on October 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
Five years after our Civil War, the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) devastated France (150,000 dead, 150,000 wounded), resulted in civic revolt (another 4,000 dead and 24,450 wounded), and exacted the largest war indemnity (and territorial surrender) of the time.

In some respects, it was a laboratory for Bismarck/Germany to test what worked best in our war: strategic mobility, railroads, rapid logistical support, long range artillery (with percussion fuses and black powder), and civilian terrorism. Victorious German states celebrated unification under the Second Reich in, of all places, Versailles.

Many apologists cite the post-WW1 Versailles Treaty (1919) as a punitive episode that victimized Germany and ensured WW2. This book proves them wrong. France, equally ravaged in the Franco-Prussian War, paid the indemnity early, recovered, and moved on. Forty three years later she was invaded again by the same enemy in WW1 (this time she would lose well over a million souls and many wounded).

This work is lucid, comprehensive, and well worth reading
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Format: Paperback
Alistair Horne is one of the preeminent historians of the 20th Century. He is English, but normally casts his eye across the channel, to events further south, and provides important perspective to bitterly contested partisan events that reverberate even today. I consider his "A Savage War of Peace," which ultimately proved a reference book in the waning days of the last occupant of the White House, to be his masterpiece. Its subject is the Algerian war for independence, 1954-62. But his trilogy on the three Franco-German wars, yes the wars between "the children of Charlemagne," that spanned a period of 70 years, comes a very close second. His first book on these three wars was concerning the middle one, World War I, and he focused on the devastating battle that epitomized that war, and entitled his book: "The Price of Glory: Verdun, 1916." He then went back to deal with the first Franco-German conflict, the one that occurred in 1870, and it is this book. His last is the one on WW II, with the focus on the collapse of France in 1940. He entitled the last book, "To Lose a Battle." Ironically, a battle near the same town, Sedan, was decisive in both 1870 and 1940.

Horne does meticulous research, looking at all sides of the conflict, official documents, as well as diaries and letters of the participants. As he said in the preface, he placed a few ads in historical journals, requesting documents, expecting a few, and he received well over a hundred. He masters his material, and then writes a rich, detailed, but immensely readable account of the conflict. As always with Horne, it does help to know French, since there are certain passages for which he provides no translation.
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