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Danton Hardcover – 16 Jul 2009

3.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (16 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224079891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224079891
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 50,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

David Lawday is a native of London, educated there and at Oxford. He is a writer and journalist who was a correspondent for twenty years with The Economist, now based in Paris where his son and daughter grew up and where he lives with his French wife.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
O.K. So this is 'Popular History/Biography', and Lawday is certainly no Christopher Hibbert or Antonia Fraser. Lawday's experience of many years as a journalist has contibuted to compelling prose and a pacy narrative. However, as I raced through this book it felt as if I kept hitting speed-bumps, and the more I hit, the more cautious my reading became and what might have been an otherwise pleasent jouney became something of a rush-hour crawl. One example of such a speed-bump will suffice: The populace of Paris attacked the Bastille for - ostensibly - no real reason other than it being a symbol of tyrany (one line only, apparently there were "many prisoners" (7!) no mention of Les Invalides and the people wanting the gun-powder). Lawday even suggests (without a single line of supportive evidence) that Madame Roland had a crush on Danton.
In his (very few) notes, Lawday criticises the film which - it seems only too evidently - he has used as part of his (un-quoted) primary source material.
I was really looking forward to reading this book, because I have always found Danton fascinating. As a read - if one can vague generalisations inflated into assersions - it is alright, but it still left me wondering what the real Danton was like.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Poor Danton. He really has got lousy friends. This is another "pro" Danton bio that makes the cause that being corpulent, corrupt and confused is the highest aspiration of human being. Lawday's Danton is pretty much a copy/paste job of the Wajda Danton with backstory. The only change is Wajda picked Revolutionary leader Maximilien Robespierre as his antagonist and Lawday plumps for diarist and salon hostess Manon Roland. It's probably not the most equal fight in literary history, but you do feel Lawday really hates to see his big man lose.

So we get "A Wilful Woman in the Way" as chapter six, and the hilarity begins. Butch Danton is constantly "bursting" and "straining" like a pair of Jackie Collins undies, while vixen Manon parades her "swelling hips" and "full breasts" between her "victims". Lawday keeps up the Mills and Boon as the tale unfolds, each new chapter bringing a fresh round of helpless giggles: "his bull's virility", "his outright virility frightened her," while he "punctures the dominatrix" his mind filled with images of her as a "caped nun in the Inquisition, her full mouth smiling as she pressed the torturer's hands a curved cane to flay his male parts." (????). Sadly, after only five chapters of this Manon is locked up, prompting a "hell hath no fury!", and relived of her head. Suddenly Danton is in love with her: "What spirit! What thrusting ambition! What a woman! Surely Manon Roland was the Revolution, it's daring, seductive essence." Lawday even credits Danton with a fleeting glimpse of his beloved Manon as he steps up to the guillotine, a la Braveheart.

Of course, throughout this Lawday maintains Robespierre is Danton's real arch-nemesis, but as he turns up only four times, it's hard to give that too much credit.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is undoubtedly biased in Danton's favour and doesn't exactly attempt scholarly analysis - however there is so much, more closely written, on Georges-Jacques that as long as you don't rely solely on this book for your information it is quite a pleasure to read. He was unquestionably a larger than life character - clearly not to everyone's taste now as then, but he was essentially human, fallible and in the end compassionate. I came to this after a long bout with Norman Hampson's Danton, Ruth Scurr's Robespierre, Gereard Bonn's Camille Desmoulins and deep involvement with Camille's tragedy in A Place of Greater Safety so I was familiar with events and characters but weary of crying endlessly at the start of 1793. The trial is always going to be distressing if you are susceptible but in this book there is a sense of joy in the spirit of Danton which was very welcome to me at least.DantonFatal Purity: Robespierre and the French RevolutionLa Révolution française et Camille DesmoulinsA Place of Greater Safety
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