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Twelve Who Ruled: The Year of the Terror in the French Revolution (Princeton Classic Editions) Paperback – July 25, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0691121871 ISBN-10: 0691121877 Edition: New Ed

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Product Details

  • Series: Princeton Classic Editions
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; New Ed edition (July 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691121877
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691121871
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #420,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Princeton's original edition: "[E]xcellently documented. . . . [O]ne of the best pictures that has ever been put together of the twelve men who made up [the] Committee of Public Safety. . . . There is fine scholarship here."--New York Times

Praise for Princeton's original edition: "[A]n excellent book on the administration of France by the great Committee of Public Safety. . . . [Palmer] has made the members of the Committee living characters and the events of the period real occurrences."--American Political Science Review

About the Author

R. R. Palmer (1909-2002) was Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University and a guest scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study. Isser Woloch is Moore Collegiate Professor of History at Columbia University.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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This is an excellent book, well written, clear and concise.
C. B Collins Jr.
Palmer describes how the Committee functions and gives a very plausible explanation for the reasons behind Robespierre's and his fellow committee members' actions.
Adam Shah
On the next page is a sketched map with the locations and provinces mentioned in his book, as well as a translation of the Republican Calendar.
Peter Levendoski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By C. B Collins Jr. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book, well written, clear and concise. It focuses on the Year of the Terror during the French Revolution.

There are several strengths to this book.

First, Palmer does an excellent job of giving short biographies of the major characters that ruled France as a committee during this period. They include Carnot,the military officer who maintained the war office during the terror,including defending the northern border of France. Collot D'Herbois, the ex-actor and fanatic had a very different temprement from the monk-like Robespierre. Saint-Just's attacks against the Dantonists was fascinating. The fall of Herault de Sechelles, the philosopher former aristocrat is very interesting.

Second, the chapters are very well organized. They are aranged around topics, including a hyistory of how the Comitteee for Public Safety evolved in the fifth year of the revolution; three chapters on maintaining control of the other regions of France during the revolution; chapters on foreign conflicts; a chapter on wage and price control and maintaining a central economy, are all well written and interesting.

I read the book after reading Hilary Mantel's novel "A Place of Greater Safety" regarding the relationship and competition between Robespierre and Danton. The two books perfectly compliment each other.

This is a very accessible history of this portion of the revolution and is extremely informative. It was written in 1941 but is fresh, current, and alive with detail.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth N. on October 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
Unlike many books written on the Reign of Terror, "Twelve Who Ruled" takes a refreshingly unbiased, as well as entertaining, view of all angles and opinions. This book's primary focus is on the Committee of Public Safety, a major governing body of France during the Terror. Detailed descriptions of the Committee's twelve members are helpful in determining the causes of the Terror, as well as the motives behind them. The author also provides several interesting and detailed descriptions of the wars in and around France, and how they directly affected the citizens and the government. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the French Revolution.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Adam Shah on February 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
In my college Western Civilization course years ago, we read a speech Robespierre gave during a festival created by the revolutionary government. After discussing this speech for a while, we passed on to Napoleon, but before we did, one student asked the professor for recommendations for further reading on the Reign of Terror. He mentioned Twelve Who Ruled. I didn't run out and buy the book, but I did keep in the back of my mind, and whenever I browsed the history shelves of a bookstore or library, I kept an eye out for it. Several years later, I ran across the book and, after reading it, I am quite glad that I did.
The Reign of Terror is, of course, a fascinating period of history that usually gets short shrift in high school or college classes. One hears of guillotines and revolutionaries run wild, killing each other for not being radical enough. This book fleshes out the story and dispels some myths about it.
Robespierre was a member of the Committee on Public Safety, a legislative committee that was part of the National Assembly, France's short-lived revolutionary parliament set up in the 1790s. The Committee consisted of twelve people, hence the title of the book: "The Twelve Who Ruled."
Palmer describes how the Committee functions and gives a very plausible explanation for the reasons behind Robespierre's and his fellow committee members' actions. Given the nature of the period, it is no surprise that the book is not boring. But Palmer did not sacrifice academic rigor for readability.
I recommend this book for anyone interested in history or political science.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Brianton on March 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is a small gem of a book and introduces both the characters and the influences of the period of the terror in the French Revolution. Like all good narrative histories, it maintains a balance between the detail and the sweep of history. Any book that is fresh and alive after forty years, begins to deserve the title of classic. Unfortunately history does not stand still and many of Palmer's conclusions need to be tested. It needs to be read alongside Soboul and Schama to gain an understanding of the complexity of this period. Even so, a great work that will repay careful reading.
From this starting point, you can delve back into the influences that brought this group to power and forward to the Napoleonic period.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
Probably the only available book for the non-specialist on this period, even taking into account French sources. Very interesting and well written, it reads like a novel, or rather like a theater play. A must for anyone interested in the period.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of the defining moments of the French Revolution was the crisis of Year II of the Revolutionary Calendar. When counter-revolutionary armies held sway over vast areas of France, royalists were gaining ground in the Vendee & the Federalist revolt was in full swing, key ports were falling to the powerful British navy and everything pointed to the inevitable overthrow of the young Republic, and with it the ideals of the Revolution, and the return of Bourbon despotism. It was at this point in time that the "twelve" who were destined to successfully guide the revolutionary machinery including the "Terror" for the crucial year (July 1793 - July 1794) of the Revolution were elected to the Committee of Public Safety. R.R. Palmer has created almost life-like portraits of those twelve men and their activities which led to the victory of Fleurus and put the European Counter-Revolution on the defensive for the next twenty-odd years and gave the Revolution breathing space.
One encounters fascinating characters including lesser known revolutionaries such as the two Prieurs, the aristocratic Herault de Seychelles, and the more well-known, such as the beautiful & terrifying Louis Antoine Saint-Just, who was the feared spokesman of the Montagnards in the Convention, and the author of the Laws of Ventôse.
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