100 books like Citizens

By Simon Schama,

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

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Book cover of Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution

Katlyn Marie Carter Author Of Democracy in Darkness: Secrecy and Transparency in the Age of Revolutions

From my list on revolutionary ideas.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of the eighteenth-century Atlantic World, specializing in the American and French Revolutions. The relationship between ideas and politics has fascinated me since I worked in media relations in Washington, DC. Because I think history can help us better understand our current political controversies and challenges, I write about the origins of representative democracy in the eighteenth century. I’m also an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame where I teach classes on colonial and revolutionary America, the Constitution, and history of the media.

Katlyn's book list on revolutionary ideas

Katlyn Marie Carter Why did Katlyn love this book?

The Haitian Revolution was long left out of the history of Atlantic revolutions, dismissed as a violent uprising of enslaved people without an ideological dimension.

Dubois’s book walks readers through the twists and turns of this decade-long revolution, highlighting the intellectual agency of enslaved and freed people and the ideological consequences of this transformative event.

The Haitian Revolution is a notoriously complicated event, but I found that this book provided coherence and a compelling analysis of the effects of this crucial moment in the history of democracy and movement for human rights. And it was a gripping read at that.

By Laurent Dubois,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Avengers of the New World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first and only successful slave revolution in the Americas began in 1791 when thousands of brutally exploited slaves rose up against their masters on Saint-Domingue, the most profitable colony in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world. Within a few years, the slave insurgents forced the French administrators of the colony to emancipate them, a decision ratified by revolutionary Paris in 1794. This victory was a stunning challenge to the order of master/slave relations throughout the Americas, including the southern United States, reinforcing the most fervent hopes of slaves and the worst fears of masters.

But, peace eluded Saint-Domingue as British and…


Book cover of At Home With The Marquis De Sade

Andrew S. Curran Author Of Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely

From my list on the Enlightenment and the world is created.

Why am I passionate about this?

Andrew Curran is passionate about books and ideas related to the eighteenth century. His writing on the Enlightenment has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Newsweek, Time Magazine, The Paris Review, El Païs, and The Wall Street Journal. Curran is also the author of three books and numerous scholarly articles on the French Enlightenment. He is currently writing a new multi-person biography that chronicles the birth of the concept of race for Other Press. Curran teaches at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, where he is a Professor of French and the William Armstrong Professor of the Humanities.

Andrew's book list on the Enlightenment and the world is created

Andrew S. Curran Why did Andrew love this book?

The Marquis de Sade (1740-1814) is one of those characters that you loathe, but cannot help but find fascinating. By all standards, this deviant aristocrat was a gentleman in name only. Yet his remarkable life (32 years of it spent in prison) and amoral philosophizing provide the grist for a great biography under the pen of Gray. Readers will find many of de Sade’s horrific exploits here, yet this book also explores his relationship with the two most important women in his life: his beloved wife, who indulged him for decades, and his hated mother-in-law, whom he envisioned flaying alive before throwing her “into a vat of vinegar.” To a large degree, Marquis’s life and philosophy were an intentionally extreme version of the Enlightenment’s emancipation of the individual. A great window into the dark side of the Enlightenment.

Book cover of Inventing Human Rights: A History

Duncan Jepson Author Of All the Flowers in Shanghai

From my list on about protest.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been an activist working on issues relating to human rights and youth protection for over fifteen years and during that time I worked as a lawyer and was lucky enough to make films and write two novels. Eventually, I would concentrate solely on activism and my reading would become very specific and as the focus of my activism changed and I directed my energies to corporate accountability my reading changed course again. The list I offer is from talented writers on important subjects, all write extremely well about things that matter to a human rights activist.  

Duncan's book list on about protest

Duncan Jepson Why did Duncan love this book?

Many human rights activists have to be focused intensely on the events of today and the consequences for tomorrow, this often allows little time for broader reading. Lynn Hunt offers a detailed and very readable analysis and argument of the history and development of contemporary human rights. I found all of her book illuminating and the connections she described eye-opening.

By Lynn Hunt,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Inventing Human Rights as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How were human rights invented, and how does their tumultuous history influence their perception and our ability to protect them today? From Professor Lynn Hunt comes this extraordinary cultural and intellectual history, which traces the roots of human rights to the rejection of torture as a means for finding the truth. She demonstrates how ideas of human relationships portrayed in novels and art helped spread these new ideals and how human rights continue to be contested today.


Book cover of How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City

Michelle Facos Author Of An American in Pandemic Paris: A Coming-of-Retirement-Age Memoir

From my list on Paris for foodies and historians.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began writing about Paris at age 7. It figured as the central location for my uncompleted novel (4 chapters), Mystry (sic) at Oak Hall Manor, undoubtedly inspired by public television’s French language program that aired daily at noon when I was a child and by tales told by my French Alsatian grandmother and her siblings. Paris was my primary destination on my first trip to Europe, and I’ve spent many extended stays for art history research (who can write about 19th-century French art without privileging Paris?), lecturing, and writing, as well as for hanging with friends, swing dancing, and just being in, for me, the world’s most wonderful city.

Michelle's book list on Paris for foodies and historians

Michelle Facos Why did Michelle love this book?

Not a repeat reader by nature, this book I have read three times, and keep a digital copy handy because I find myself consulting it when I’m in Paris. As a historian of 19th-century art, I knew modern Paris was the co-creation of Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann; its many boulevards, department stores, parks, train stations, and now ubiquitous 7-story, white buildings with wrought-iron window grates emerged during the second half of the 19th-century. Professor DeJean persuaded me otherwise: that Henry IV made the first modern improvements: planned neighborhoods, tax incentives to encourage enterprise, streetlights, and Europe’s first stone bridge intended for spectating rather than commerce – the Pont Neuf had no buildings, just alcoves with stone benches for viewing the city from the Seine River that traverses it.

By Joan DeJean,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

At the beginning of the seventeenth century, Paris was known for isolated monuments but had not yet put its brand on urban space. Like other European cities, it was still emerging from its medieval past. But in a mere century Paris would be transformed into the modern and mythic city we know today.

Though most people associate the signature characteristics of Paris with the public works of the nineteenth century, Joan DeJean demonstrates that the Parisian model for urban space was in fact invented two centuries earlier, when the first complete design for the French capital was drawn up and…


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 Women of 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?

Women played a major role in the French Revolution. Providing fuel for the core of the revolution, the female sans-culottes, poissardes, and other working-class women were instrumental in shaping the events and opinions of the revolutionaries such as Robespierre and Danton.

During the revolution, prominent women became agitators, hosted politically influential salons, led several major revolutionary clubs, wrote contemporary political position papers, organized and led women in para-military groups, and murdered key revolutionaries. The women of the French Revolution were no “shrinking violets.”

Ms. Stephens’s book is an excellent introduction to the various women who influenced the revolutionaries on a day-to-day intellectual basis. Madame Guillotine did not discriminate by gender⏤many of these women ultimately lost their heads.

By Winfred Stephens,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Women of the French Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

This work is in the "public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank…


Book cover of Marie Antoinette: The Journey

Will Bashor Author Of Marie Antoinette's Darkest Days: Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie

From my list on Marie Antoinette from a fan and a historian.

Why am I passionate about this?

Although the books on my list all delve into the history of Queen Marie Antoinette and her family, they also provide an understanding of the chaotic period leading up to the French Revolution. I’ve always been fascinated by the historical drama, controversy, and tragedy of her personal life, but the readings on my list also explore the social changes in manners, clothing styles, and class distinctions that accompanied the political unrest.

Will's book list on Marie Antoinette from a fan and a historian

Will Bashor Why did Will love this book?

As a Francophone myself, I found that Fraser's biography offered a captivating study of the French monarchy. And through nuanced storytelling, it challenged conventional perceptions of Marie Antoinette. By fostering empathy for her incredible plight amid French society’s expectations, the book ultimately reshaped her historical portrayal. 

Fraser's portrayal of the characters' emotional states added depth to the Marie Antoinette’s story, making it vivid in my imagination. She also offered a sympathetic view of the queen, highlighting her tragic end. Balanced in her views, the author also challenged my misconceptions, revealing the queen’s humanity and providing insightful, little-known details of her short life.

By Antonia Fraser,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The national bestseller from the acclaimed author of The Wives of Henry VIII.  France’s beleaguered queen, Marie Antoinette, wrongly accused of uttering the infamous “Let them eat cake,” was the subject of ridicule and curiosity even before her death; she has since been the object of debate and speculation and the fascination so often accorded tragic figures in history. Married in mere girlhood, this essentially lighthearted, privileged, but otherwise unremarkable child was thrust into an unparalleled time and place, and was commanded by circumstance to play a significant role in history. Antonia Fraser’s lavish and engaging portrait of Marie Antoinette,…


Book cover of The Giant of the French Revolution: Danton, a Life

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?

The story of Robespierre’s archnemesis, George-Jacques Danton, is not widely known (Robespierre and Marie Antoinette seem to hog all the attention). This is surprising considering the substantial impact Danton had on the revolution as one of its influential leaders.

Mr. Lawday portrays Danton as he was in real life: a very large and physically imposing man (if you don’t believe this, check out Danton’s statue next to the entrance of the Odéon métro station), quite an athlete (he kept in shape by swimming the Seine), and a natural leader (Danton was the leader of the Cordeliers, the primary competitor to the Jacobins).

Danton was a victim of the revolution and Robespierre. The Swiss-born constitutional monarchist, Jacques Mallet du Pan, wrote, “...like Saturn, the Revolution devours its children.” He was right.

By David Lawday,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Giant of the French Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the Western world’s most epic uprisings, the French Revolution ended a monarchy that had ruled for almost a thousand years. George-Jacques Danton was the driving force behind it. In the first biography of Danton in over forty years, David Lawday reveals the larger-than-life figure who joined the fray at the storming of the Bastille in 1789 and was dead five years later.
To hear Danton speak, his booming voice a roll of thunder, excited bourgeois reformers and the street alike; his impassioned speeches, often hours long, drove the sans culottes to action and kept the Revolution alive. But…


Book cover of Robespierre

Colin Jones Author Of The Fall of Robespierre: 24 Hours in Revolutionary Paris

From my list on the life of Maximilien Robespierre.

Why am I passionate about this?

France has always been my special inspiration in life and I am lucky to have made a career writing about its history. Many of my books are framed in a long-term perspective. Paris: Biography of a City (2004)  and The Cambridge Illustrated History of France (1994), for example, take the story back to the earliest times and comes up to the present. Wanting a complete change and a new challenge, I shifted focus dramatically in my current book: the history of a city in a single day – the dramatic day in the French Revolution when the Parisians overthrew Maximilien Robespierre.

Colin's book list on the life of Maximilien Robespierre

Colin Jones Why did Colin love this book?

Thompson published his life of Robespierre in 1935, yet despite its age, it belies its age and is well worth a look. It is a heavyweight two-volumed biography, that is profoundly researched yet gracefully written. Extraordinarily comprehensive, it spans from shrewd analyses of Robespierre’s ideas and actions down to some of the most trivial (and fascinating) minutiae of his life. Thompson was ordained as a priest, subsequently renouncing his faith, and his study is particularly interesting on Robespierre’s contentious religious ideas.

His conclusion that Robespierre was ‘the embodiment of the revolutionary spirit of the French people' is, however, more than a little worrying. Maybe Robespierre is one of those enigmatic characters who is always with us!

By J.M. Thompson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Robespierre as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Using the rich documentation of the period, Thompson aims to give a detailed account of the play of intrigue and manipulation that characterized the Revolution. The biography attempts to combine historical accuracy with the excitement of a novel.


Book cover of A Place of Greater Safety

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?

A compelling historical fiction with the background of the French Revolution. The book describes the three main figures from the outside province to Paris who made the agitated and bloody history. Camille was related to the capture of Bastille; Danton made the execution of Louis XVI and Robespierre—the Terror. They enjoyed the happiness of power, but also paid a heavy price for it. We can see how humanity was lost in the turbulent revolutionary storm. 

By Hilary Mantel,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Place of Greater Safety as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This novel follows the lives of three major figures in the French Revolution - Robespierre, Danton and Desmoulins - from their childhoods in Northern France through to the last terrifying moments of their execution. The book juxataposes private occasions with public events.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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