The Fancy Times

Fine Slop for the Discerning Tastemaker

The French Revolution

Ian Davidson, 2016

This one is a sweet middle ground between scholarly and easily digestible. There’s a brand of contemporary non-fiction that I call candy tales. It’s that poppy, junk food way of detailing the life of some vast historical figure in these already stale OMG Scandal Gossip or Totally Super Rad Bro tones. This one avoided all that. The author was most notably a columnist for Financial Times. The content is cited and sourced properly, but it doesn’t feel academic. When I received the book I had expected it to be larger, something like the abridged version of Gibbons’ The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. This is about the size of a standard contemporary novel. Closer to four hundred pages than three. There’s density here and more telling than showing, but so it goes with useful non-fic. If there is bias in the author’s relays I can’t pick up on them. The most intriguing figures of the Revolution, King Louie, Queen Marie, and ugly Maximillian, are all treated fairly. The chapters are ordered chronologically and within that chronology, the more minute events are layered well without too much sidestepping.

Ultimately, I consider this a fantastic introduction to the French Revolution and about all there is to know concerning that history for anyone who isn’t writing a thesis.

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