Fatal Purity by Ruth Scurr
Robespierre and the French Revolution

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Synopsis

A riveting biography of the French Revolution's most enigmatic figure that restores him to his pivotal historic place

Since his execution by guillotine in July 1794, Maximilien Robespierre has been contested terrain for historians, at once the most notorious leader of the French Revolution and the least comprehensible. Was he a bloodthirsty charlatan or the only true defender of revolutionary ideals? Was his extreme moralism--he was known as "The Incorruptible"--a heroic virtue or a ruinous flaw? Was he the first modern dictator or the earliest democrat?
Against the dramatic backdrop of the French Revolution, historian Ruth Scurr follows the trajectory of Robespierre's paradoxical life, from his unprepossessing beginnings as a provincial lawyer opposed to repressive authority and the death penalty, to his meteoric rise in Paris politics as a devastatingly efficient revolutionary leader, righteous and paranoid in equal measure. She explores his reformist zeal, his role in the trial of the king and the fall of the monarchy, his passionate attempt to design a modern republic, even his extraordinary effort to found a perfect religion. And she follows him into the depths of the Terror, as he makes summary execution the order of the day, himself falling victim to the violence at the age of thirty-six.
Written with epic sweep, full of nuance and insight, Fatal Purity is a fascinating portrait of a man who identified with the Revolution to the point of madness, and in so doing changed the course of history.


 

About Ruth Scurr

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Born in 1971, Ruth Scurr studied at Oxford and Cambridge, where she currently teaches politics and history. A prominent literary critic, she has written for The New York Review of Books and The Times Literary Supplement. Fatal Purity is her first book.
 
Published April 17, 2007 by Metropolitan Books. 448 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Fatal Purity

The Guardian

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Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolutionby Ruth ScurrChatto & Windus £20, pp304.

May 06 2006 | Read Full Review of Fatal Purity: Robespierre and...

The Guardian

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Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution by Ruth Scurr 304pp, Chatto & Windus, £20.

May 19 2006 | Read Full Review of Fatal Purity: Robespierre and...

Publishers Weekly

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The short, violent life of Maximilien Robespierre was a mass of contradictions crowned with a supreme irony: this architect of the French Revolution's Reign of Terror would in July 1794 be exec

Mar 06 2006 | Read Full Review of Fatal Purity: Robespierre and...

truthdig

Hobsbawm has given it wide currency.) One of Hobsbawm’s many virtues as a historian is his continuity of focus: Though one of “On Empire’s” four sections was written before the event that supposedly changed the entire world, Hobsbawm’s perspective encompasses the long view, in which 9/11 can be v...

May 30 2008 | Read Full Review of Fatal Purity: Robespierre and...

truthdig

It prevents Russia from attaining permanent normal trade relation status with the U.S. Now that Russia is in the WTO, this means that higher tariffs apply to imports and exports between the U.S. and Russia.

Sep 25 2012 | Read Full Review of Fatal Purity: Robespierre and...

Politico

Written with epic sweep, full of nuance and insight, Fatal Purity is a fascinating portrait of a man who identified with the Revolution to the point of madness, and in so doing changed the course of history.

| Read Full Review of Fatal Purity: Robespierre and...

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