100 books like A Place of Greater Safety

By Hilary Mantel,

Here are 100 books that A Place of Greater Safety fans have personally recommended if you like A Place of Greater Safety. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Ninety-Three

Joy Sheridan Author Of Charity Amour

From my list on the French Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been fascinated by the Regency Period, and because of this fascination, I explored its historical context in full. That includes, of course, the French Revolution and its repercussions in England and globally. I am also obsessed with the literary concept of the heroine, and wanted to create characters who in some ways synthesized Moll Flanders and Jane Eyre, bridging the gap between 18th and 19th Century expression.

Joy's book list on the French Revolution

Joy Sheridan Why did Joy love this book?

A total feeling for the pulse of the Revolution, and a focus on its core in that fatal year – the end of the Monarchy, the ushering-in of the Reign of terror. Its reverberations spread everywhere. It gave me such a strong sense of the decadence of the ancien régime, and the fury of the populace that aroused.  

By Victor Hugo,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Ninety-Three as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ninety-Three (1874) is the final novel of Victor Hugo. As a work of historical fiction, the story is set during the period of conflict between the newly formed French Republic and the Royalists who sought to reverse the gains of the revolution. Praised for its morality and honest depiction of the horrors of war, Ninety-Three influenced such wide-ranging political thinkers as Joseph Stalin and Ayn Rand. "The soldiers forced cautiously. Everything was in full bloom; they were surrounded by a quivering wall of branches, whose leaves diffused a delicious freshness. Here and there sunbeams pierced these green shades." Advancing through…


Book cover of A Tale of Two Cities

Fathali Moghaddam Author Of The Psychology of Revolution

From my list on why revolutions fail.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a deep passion for the psychology of revolution because my family has experienced revolution in our country of birth, and I have expertise on this topic because, as a psychologist, I have extensively studied revolutions for decades. This is a topic seldom studied by modern psychologists, perhaps because most research psychologists live in Western countries and have not experienced revolutions. Western psychologists have no experience with revolutions. The last book published with the title of my book, The Psychology of Revolution, came out in 1894! I am very enthusiastic about putting together this diverse reading list, which is made up of research books, novels, and a poetry collection.

Fathali's book list on why revolutions fail

Fathali Moghaddam Why did Fathali love this book?

Dickens was a great intuitive psychologist, and The Tale of Two Cities shows some brilliant insights into human behavior during and after revolutions. The wonderful dreams of French society being built on justice and fairness came crashing down after the revolution. This is because people driven by opportunism and pathological hatred took over society. These ‘revolutionaries’ had an intense desire for vengeance and violent retribution–as well as gaining power for themselves. 

This is a feature of revolutions that we see again and again after the collapse of the old regime: unprincipled opportunists jumping to power. The direction of change becomes more radical. Inevitably, a lot of innocent people became victims during this post-revolution period, as did many innocent French people during what became known as the period of ‘Terror,’ when the guillotine rapidly killed thousands and thousands.

Dickens shows that in this terrifying post-revolution period, some individuals make great sacrifices…

By Charles Dickens,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked A Tale of Two Cities as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sydney Carton is a lawyer who has wasted his abilities and his life. Now he has to make a difficult choice about what is really important to him, which could be a matter of life or death. The French Revolution is running its violent course; lives are ruined as a new France is created. How did the gentle Doctor Manette and his daughter Lucie become caught up in France's struggles? What is the real identity of the handsome Charles Darnay, who wins Lucie's hand in marriage? And why does the shadow of La Bastille Prison hang over them all? The…


Book cover of Doctor Zhivago

Reiner Prochaska Author Of Captives

From my list on characters who preserve their humanity in war.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in postwar Germany, I have always been fascinated by how people survive wars emotionally and retain their humanity. In my extensive research for Captives, I came across an account of a German soldier in North Africa, whose tank had been hit and was engulfed in flames. A human torch, he jumped from the tank, expecting to be killed by British soldiers who were nearby. Instead, they rolled his body in the sand to extinguish the flames and called a medic, saving his life. This act of humanity moved me and inspired me to make the preservation of one’s humanity in war the central theme in my novel.

Reiner's book list on characters who preserve their humanity in war

Reiner Prochaska Why did Reiner love this book?

Yuri Zhivago, a physician and a poet—strives to adhere to his ideals of integrity throughout his tragic life—though not always successfully. His medical skills allow him to heal others, and his poetry lets him explore truth in the volatile world of the Bolshevik Revolution and the Russian Civil War. 

Although he is in love with Lara, a married woman with whom he has a passionate affair, his sense of duty and honor allow him to remain devoted to his wife, Tonya.

His belief that humans should be true to themselves and maintain independent thoughts ultimately makes him a target for the Bolsheviks. 

As a writer who believes in the importance of truth—and as a flawed human being who makes mistakes and regrets them—I relate to Yuri.

By Boris Pasternak, Richard Pevear (translator), Larissa Volokhonsky

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Doctor Zhivago as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in Italy in 1957 amid international controversy, Doctor Zhivago is the story of the life and loves of a poet/physician during the turmoil of the Russian Revolution. Taking his family from Moscow to what he hopes will be shelter in the Ural Mountains, Zhivago finds himself instead embroiled in the battle between the Whites and the Reds. Set against this backdrop of cruelty and strife is Zhivago's love for the tender and beautiful Lara, the very embodiment of the pain and chaos of those cataclysmic times. Pevear and Volokhonsky masterfully restore the spirit of Pasternak's original—his style, rhythms,…


The Woman at the Wheel

By Penny Haw,

Book cover of The Woman at the Wheel

Penny Haw Author Of The Invincible Miss Cust

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Storyteller Dog walker Dreamer Runner Reader

Penny's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Inspiring historical fiction based on the real life of Bertha Benz, whose husband built the first prototype automobile, which eventually evolved into the Mercedes-Benz marque.

"Unfortunately, only a girl again."

From a young age, Cäcilie Bertha Ringer is fascinated by her father's work as a master builder in Pforzheim, Germany. But those five words, which he wrote next to her name in the family Bible, haunt Bertha.

Years later, Bertha meets Carl Benz and falls in love—with him and his extraordinary dream of building a horseless carriage. Bertha has such faith in him that she invests her dowry in his plans, a dicey move since they alone believe in the machine. When Carl's partners threaten to withdraw their support, he's ready to cut ties. Bertha knows the decision would ruin everything. Ignoring the cynics, she takes matters into her own hands, secretly planning a scheme that will either hasten the family's passage to absolute derision or prove their genius. What Bertha doesn't know is that Carl is on the cusp of making a deal with their nemesis. She's not only risking her marriage and their life's work, but is also up against the patriarchy, Carl's own self-doubt, and the clock.

Like so many other women, Bertha lived largely in her husband's shadow, but her contributions are now celebrated in this inspiring story of perseverance, resilience, and love.

The Woman at the Wheel

By Penny Haw,

What is this book about?

Inspiring historical fiction based on the real life of Bertha Benz, whose husband built the first prototype automobile, which eventually evolved into the Mercedes-Benz marque.

"Unfortunately, only a girl again."

From a young age, Cacilie Bertha Ringer is fascinated by her father's work as a master builder in Pforzheim, Germany. But those five words, which he wrote next to her name in the family Bible, haunt Bertha.

Years later, Bertha meets Carl Benz and falls in love-with him and his extraordinary dream of building a horseless carriage. Bertha has such faith in him that she invests her dowry in his…


Topics
  • Coming soon!

Book cover of And Quiet Flows the Don

John Xiao Zhang Author Of Sailing Across the Red Storm

From my list on revolutionary background that stir your heart.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a retired lecturer at Southampton University, but used to live in China for many years. I experienced the horrible Chinese Cultural Revolution between the 1960s and 1970s, which was similar to Stalin’s Great Purges. I was put in jail and suffered cruel torture. So personally, I can more understand how, in all revolutionary movement, people were struggling with the threat of death and hopelessness; how they were torn between the new value of the revolution and the damage to the existing moral system; and how the strength of humanity could shine in the bloody darkness of terror.

John's book list on revolutionary background that stir your heart

John Xiao Zhang Why did John love this book?

It is a compelling epic of the bloody Russian Revolution to show how Don Cossack suffered and fought during World War I, the Russian Revolution, and the following civic war. The love story is beautiful and moving. The main character Grigori was moving between the White and Red army, with pain and daze. Like other Cossack people, he was torn between royalty and betrayal, right and wrong, justice and barbarism.

By Mikhail Sholokhov,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked And Quiet Flows the Don as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the first of four books of the novel, And Quiet Flows the Don. The second and third books are due to be put into ebook format in late 2016, with book four coming available in 2017.

And Quiet Flows the Don is an epic novel in four volumes by Russian writer Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov. The first three volumes were written from 1925 to 1932 and published in the Soviet magazine October in 1928–1932, and the fourth volume was finished in 1940. The English translation of the first three volumes appeared under this title in 1934.

The novel is…


Book cover of Terror: The French Revolution and Its Demons

Jeff Horn Author Of The Making of a Terrorist: Alexandre Rousselin and the French Revolution

From my list on the terror in the French Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been trying to understand revolutionary violence my whole life, in the classroom and through scholarship. I am fundamentally interested in questions of “how” and “so what” because even the best, most heavily evidenced historical reconstructions of collective decisions rely heavily on conjecture, especially when it comes to something as complex and controversial as revolutionary violence. My biography of Alexandre Rousselin, an eyewitness and participant in French politics across the Revolutionary era, brings to life the choices and pressures that influenced his actions without minimizing the price he paid for those choices. Rousselin’s extraordinary life story contextualizes and engages understandings of the Terror in the French Revolution like those reviewed below.

Jeff's book list on the terror in the French Revolution

Jeff Horn Why did Jeff love this book?

Sometimes a book captures a scholarly moment; this one does.

It crystallizes a swirl of arguments about whether a true system of terror was created and imposed by the Revolutionary government by cutting through contemporary scapegoating and modern ideological conflict to lay the historical record bare.

Terror is a powerful book that I can both appreciate and argue with since I think it overemphasizes the experience of Paris at the expense of the lived reality of the provinces.

While I don’t always agree with its conclusions, Terror brings fresh insight to politics in 1793-94 and how the legacy of Revolutionary violence has become distorted, beginning in 1794 and continuing until the present.

By Michel Biard, Marisa Linton,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Terror as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the heart of how history sees the French Revolution lies the enigma of the Terror. How did this archetypal revolution, founded on the principles of liberty and equality and the promotion of human rights, arrive at circumstances where it carried out the violent and terrible repression of its opponents? The guillotine, initially designed to be a 'humane' form of capital punishment, became a formidable instrument of political repression and left a deep imprint, not only on how we see the Revolution, but also on how France's image has been depicted in the world.

This book reconstructs the Terror in…


Book cover of The Gods Will Have Blood

David Millett Author Of The Cure: Imagine There’s No Religion

From my list on love, hate, greed, passion, and self interest.

Why am I passionate about this?

David Millett is a digital artist. He is an accomplished author, filmmaker, and producer of paper and eBooks. He loves writing, painting, filmmaking, composing, and performing music.

David's book list on love, hate, greed, passion, and self interest

David Millett Why did David love this book?

This book depicts the violence and devastation of the ‘Reign of Terror’ (a period of extreme violence during the French Revolution) with breathtaking power. It weaves into it a tale that grips, convinces, and profoundly moves the reader. If one is looking to understand human nature and its true depth of depravity, look to no other book.

By Anatole France,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Gods Will Have Blood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Anatole France's work "Les dieux ont soif" translates to "The Gods Will Have Blood" or "The Gods are Athirst." Both translations of the title accurately depict the nature of this novel set during the French Revolution. Young artist Évariste Gamelin is the right-hand man of Jacobin, Marat, and Robespierre and eventually becomes appointed as a juror on the Revolutionary Tribunal during the heinous Reign of Terror. Though Gamelin fully believes in the ideas of revolution and liberty, he uses his position of power to terrorize his friends and family who do not agree with his zealous ideals. Yet his bloodthirsty…


Book cover of Paris in the Terror

Graeme Fife Author Of The Terror: The Shadow of the Guillotine - France 1793-1794

From my list on the terror of the French Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a professional writer for over 40 years. Much of my work has been focused on biographies and historical drama for radio. Both topics involve extensive research. The French Revolution has always fascinated me. The stories about the wild extremes of human behaviour exercise a morbid power on the imagination. I have written much on the subject and the people caught up in, and often generating, the madness and inhuman folly. I have, I believe, developed a particular feel for the period and the lesson it teaches us. My book about the Terror is the culmination of many years of study and deliberation. I write well, vividly, and forcefully and I speak and read French.

Graeme's book list on the terror of the French Revolution

Graeme Fife Why did Graeme love this book?

Loomis bases his account on the life and work of three principals in the Revolution: Jean-Paul Marat, the sanguinary demagogue, self-styled ‘People’s Friend’ and proponent of some of the grimmest excesses of the Terror; Danton, the moderate, whose increasing distaste for those excesses and his clash with Robespierre ultimately took him to the scaffold; Robespierre, the prissy, virginal, orphaned lawyer who had once argued passionately against the death penalty and then oversaw the herding of droves of citizens – mostly not aristocrats but largely what the French call the "menu peuple", humble artisans, shopgirls, social nobodies – to the guillotine. Inflexible as a Commandment, he became increasingly obsessed with ‘virtue’ in the twisted belief that legislation alone can enjoin decent behaviour or "civisme". Danton, the ebullient bon viveur rebuffed this nonsense cheerily: ‘Virtue,’ he said ‘is what I do with my wife every night.’

Loomis writes vividly, his book is…

By Stanley Loomis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Paris in the Terror as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book by Loomis, Stanley


Book cover of Pauvre Bitos ou Le Dîner de Têtes

Graeme Fife Author Of The Terror: The Shadow of the Guillotine - France 1793-1794

From my list on the terror of the French Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a professional writer for over 40 years. Much of my work has been focused on biographies and historical drama for radio. Both topics involve extensive research. The French Revolution has always fascinated me. The stories about the wild extremes of human behaviour exercise a morbid power on the imagination. I have written much on the subject and the people caught up in, and often generating, the madness and inhuman folly. I have, I believe, developed a particular feel for the period and the lesson it teaches us. My book about the Terror is the culmination of many years of study and deliberation. I write well, vividly, and forcefully and I speak and read French.

Graeme's book list on the terror of the French Revolution

Graeme Fife Why did Graeme love this book?

Anouilh shapes his play in parallel reference to two of the most traumatic periods in French history: the immediate aftermath of the 1945 Liberation and the end of the Terror with the death of Robespierre. In post-war France, a group of friends hit on a plan to explore what twisted logic shapes the individual who gets caught up in the violence of oppression. They invite a local man, one Bitos, to attend a masked dinner where each of the guests will take on the role of a prominent figure of the Revolution, Bitos himself, who has greatly profited by collaboration with the occupiers, to take on that of Robespierre, whom Thomas Carlyle referred in his magisterial History of the French Revolution as the ‘sea-green incorruptible’, from the tinted spectacles he wore.

Carlyle’s prose is lush, baroque, strong meat but well worth dipping into. The idea is brilliant as a vehicle…

By Jean Anouilh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pauvre Bitos ou Le Dîner de Têtes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Poor Bitos” is the strongest and most strikingly contemporary of Jean Anouilh’s plays. With freezing precision and extraordinary theatrical skill, Anouilh here exposes the evil at the heart of political extremism, with specific reference to the French people but with implications that are tragically universal. The principal character is one André Bitos, a thin-lipped, Eichmann-like public prosecutor with a fanatical sense of justice that outrages every normal feeling of compassion. Bitos since the close of World War II has made it his gruesome business to track down fellow countrymen suspected of collaborating with the Germans and to bring about their…


Book cover of Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution

Stew Ross Author Of Where Did They Put the Guillotine?-Marie Antoinette's Last Ride: Volume 2 A Walking Tour of Revolutionary Paris

From my list on the French Revolution without losing your head.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m not a trained historian (I received my B.S. in geology and spent my career in commercial banking). However, I grew up in Europe during the 1960s and developed a passion for history. I learned to write as a banker back in the “good old” days. I enjoyed it so much that I told myself, “One day, I'm going to write a book.” Well, that day came in Nashville when I was running a small company. Then I found Leonard Pitt’s book called Walks Through Lost Paris. As we walked through the streets of Paris, I turned to my wife and said, “I can write a book like this.” And so I did.

Stew's book list on the French Revolution without losing your head

Stew Ross Why did Stew love this book?

There has been much written about Maximilien Robespierre (in French and English).

I enjoyed Ms. Scurr’s biography because it is well-written, superbly researched, and represents a complete picture of the ruthless leader of the Jacobins and the French Revolution. The author paints her young bourgeois subject as the zealous revolutionary who demanded nothing less than complete devotion to Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité. Responsible for the period we know as “The Terror,” Robespierre’s edicts were so severe that people lost their heads if even suspected of a “crime.”

As so often happens, what goes around, comes around. Robespierre’s downfall is outlined in detail and serves as a warning to political and other leaders whose extremist views are imposed on people.  

By Ruth Scurr,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Fatal Purity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Robespierre was only 36 when he died, sent to the guillotine where he had sent thousands ahead of him. Only a few months before, this pale and fragile man, formal, anxious to the point of paranoia, steeled by deep-held principles, had held centre place in the new Festival of the Supreme Being, wearing his sky-blue coat and decreeing a new religion for France. Robespierre and the Revolution were inseparable: a single inflexible tyrant. But what turned a shy young lawyer into the living embodiment of the Terror at its most violent? Admirers called him 'the great incorruptible'; critics dubbed him…


Book cover of The Life of Louis XVI

Munro Price Author Of Napoleon: The End of Glory

From my list on the French Revolution and Napoleon.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian who has been researching and writing on the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars for thirty-five years now. Since the age of ten I have been fascinated by these years, partly through childhood holidays in France, but also because of their sheer drama. British history in the same period has nothing to compare with the storming of the Bastille or Napoleon’s meteoric career. Specializing in this turbulent era has made me particularly interested in how regimes fall, and whether under different circumstances they could have survived.

Munro's book list on the French Revolution and Napoleon

Munro Price Why did Munro love this book?

The great strength of this book is that as well as offering a major reinterpretation of Louis, XVI, it is also a pleasure to read. John Hardman has pioneered the reappraisal of Louis that has been underway over the last twenty years. The unfortunate king has traditionally been portrayed as either reactionary or incompetent (or both). In place of this caricature, Hardman convincingly presents the monarch as a man of high intelligence who was prepared to make many more compromises with the Revolution than historians have allowed. In his view, Louis’ real weakness was not intellectual but psychological: crises of depression that paralysed him at crucial moments after 1789.

By John Hardman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Life of Louis XVI as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A thought-provoking, authoritative biography of one of history's most maligned rulers: France's Louis XVI

"The definitive contribution to our understanding of Louis XVI as a man and a monarch."-P.M. Jones, English Historical Review

"Monumental. . . . Scholars probing the mysteries of the late Old Regime and French Revolution will be working in its shadow for many years to come."-Thomas E. Kaiser, Journal of Modern History

Louis XVI of France, who was guillotined in 1793 during the Revolution and Reign of Terror, is commonly portrayed in fiction and film either as a weak and stupid despot in thrall to his…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in France, the French Revolution, and Maximilien Robespierre?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about France, the French Revolution, and Maximilien Robespierre.

France Explore 885 books about France
The French Revolution Explore 128 books about the French Revolution
Maximilien Robespierre Explore 16 books about Maximilien Robespierre