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4.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction
The Terror is a hard topic to get to grids with and this book is a very good introduction as well as a brilliant revision aid for undergraduates.

Some reviews on amazon are unfair on Hugh Gough. He may have a fairly liberal interpretation of the Terror but it is wrong to suggest he brushes over the atrocities - Simon Schama's highly emotive history is only one...
Published on 26 May 2013 by A Customer

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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and maybe even dishonest?
There are aspects of history about which any reader simply can't be neutral, like the Holocaust, the U.S.S.R or the crusades. The French Revolution is one such event. Even after two centuries, it divides historians along contemporary political lines between those who see it as generally a positive integer driven by democratic, socialistic and egalitarian ideals and those...
Published on 22 Sept. 2011 by Sardonicus


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4.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction, 26 May 2013
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The Terror is a hard topic to get to grids with and this book is a very good introduction as well as a brilliant revision aid for undergraduates.

Some reviews on amazon are unfair on Hugh Gough. He may have a fairly liberal interpretation of the Terror but it is wrong to suggest he brushes over the atrocities - Simon Schama's highly emotive history is only one of many valid approaches to study of the Terror. Gough gets his facts right it is simply his delivery is less emotive. To infer he is no better than a Holocaust denier so ridiculous and show a complete lack of awareness of the wider historiography on the Terror. As an overview of the topic Gough actually gives a more balanced perspective on the Terror and its legacy than Schama.

The book is divided into short chapters on each period of the escalating crisis. The first chapter offer a brief overview of the historiography on the Terror. Gough does offer a short conclusion and synthesizes the views of both the Left and the Rights to give a very balanced interpretation of the Terror. As a revision aid this book is invaluable.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and maybe even dishonest?, 22 Sept. 2011
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There are aspects of history about which any reader simply can't be neutral, like the Holocaust, the U.S.S.R or the crusades. The French Revolution is one such event. Even after two centuries, it divides historians along contemporary political lines between those who see it as generally a positive integer driven by democratic, socialistic and egalitarian ideals and those who regard it as largely negative and inevitably underpinned by totalitarianism, dictatorship and, above all, terror.

Hugh Gough is Emeritus Professor of History at University College, Dublin, and he sides firmly with the positivists. His short book - one hundred and twelve pages - concentrates only on the byproduct of the Revolution: terrorism or, more formally, The Terror. The book is not an original history; it's a summary and digest of previous historians' work. That's not a bad thing in itself since this book seems intended to have been a 'Beginner's Guide to The Terror'.

However, he seems so enthused by the ideals of the Revolution that throughout the book he systematically downplays the arrests without trial, the mob murders and the mass executions that were the fundamental features of The Terror. Every time he lists an atrocity, he attempts to rationalise the actions of its perpetrators as being some form of self-defence against 'counter-revolutionaries', 'emigres' or 'foreign interventionists'. This is a question of interpretation which is, of course, the prerogative of the author. However, at key points there seems to be wilful distortions of objective fact designed to cast a positive - or 'balanced' - gloss on the actions of the revolutionaries.

For example, on 10th August 1792, a mob attacked the Tuileries Palace and seized the king. Gough mentions that "376 of the attackers [were left] dead and wounded" and "800 of the Swiss Guard defenders". This is not quite truthful. While many of the 376 mob casualities were killed, many survived, though wounded; all of the 800 defenders were killed, most of them massacred by the attackers when they had laid down their weapons and surrendered. This was an act of pure terrorism that set the pattern for many more mass murders to come. And yet Professor Gough not only barely mentions this incident but distorts the basic facts of the case. There are many other examples of this kind of special pleading throughout the book.

If a historian writing about the Second World War had tried to downplay the Holocaust as Professor Gough, to my eye, waters down The Terror, there would be outrage. There are many better, more accurate and more honest books about the French Revolution and The Terror than this one. I recommend Simon Schama's 'Citizens - A Chronicle of the French Revolution' and David Andress' 'The Terror - Civil War In The French Revolution'.
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The Terror in the French Revolution (Studies in European History)
The Terror in the French Revolution (Studies in European History) by Professor Hugh Gough (Paperback - 30 July 2010)
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