The Dynamite Club by John Merriman
How a Bombing in Fin-de-Siecle Paris Ignited the Age of Modern Terror

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The fascinating story of a long-forgotten "war on terror" that has much in common with our own

On a February evening in 1894, a young radical intellectual named Émile Henry drank two beers at an upscale Parisian restaurant, then left behind a bomb as a parting gift. This incident, which rocked the French capital, lies at the heart of The Dynamite Club, a mesmerizing account of Henry and his cohorts and the war they waged against the bourgeoisie—setting off bombs in public places, killing the president of France, and eventually assassinating President McKinley in 1901.

Paris in the belle époque was a place of leisure, elegance, and power. Newly electrified, the city’s wide boulevards were lined with posh department stores and outdoor cafés. But prosperity was limited to a few. Most lived in dire poverty, and workers and intellectuals found common cause in a political philosophy—anarchism—that embraced the overthrow of the state by any means necessary.

Yet in targeting civilians to achieve their ends, the dynamite bombers charted a new course. Seeking martyrdom, believing fervently in their goal, and provoking a massive government reaction that only increased their ranks, these "evildoers" became, in effect, the first terrorists in modern history.

Surprising and provocative, The Dynamite Club is a brilliantly researched account that illuminates a period of dramatic social and political change—and subtly asks us to reflect upon our own.


About John Merriman

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JOHN MERRIMAN is the Charles Seymour Professor of History at Yale University. He is the author of many books, including the classic History of Modern Europe and The Stones of Balazuc. He lives with his family in Connecticut and Balazuc, France.
Published February 12, 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 292 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel, Self Help. Non-fiction

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There had been anarchist bombings, including one of a police station by Henry, before he threw his handmade explosive into the Café Terminus on February 12, but their targets had been government officials or the wealthy;

| Read Full Review of The Dynamite Club: How a Bomb...

The Washington Post

Merriman contends that Henry was the prototype of the modern terrorist because, unlike previous anarchist bombers who had targeted high officials and aristocrats, Henry struck out blindly, tossing a bomb into the Café Terminus, a popular Paris establishment, on Feb. 12, 1894.

Mar 08 2009 | Read Full Review of The Dynamite Club: How a Bomb...

The Independent

Professor John Merriman – whose book The Dynamite Club is one of the best accounts of the anarchist attacks – explains: "After the Italian king Umberto I was assassinated by the anarchist Gaetano Bresci, the Italian state response was deliberately restrained and minor.

Oct 12 2009 | Read Full Review of The Dynamite Club: How a Bomb...

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