100 books like The French Revolution

By Thomas Carlyle,

Here are 100 books that The French Revolution fans have personally recommended if you like The French Revolution. 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 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 The French Lieutenant's Woman

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?

I was utterly captivated by Meryl Streep’s performance in the film; I had to read the book. Great plot line with its revolutionary intrigue. My heart warmed utterly to Sarah Woodruff, and the mysterious, charismatic qualities she so powerfully radiated. She was a powerful fractional role model for Charity’s character.   

By John Fowles,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The French Lieutenant's Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As part of Back Bay's ongoing effort to make the works of John Fowles available in uniform trade paperback editions, two major works in the Fowles canon are reissued to coincide with the publication of Wormholes, the author's long-awaited new collection of essays and occasional writings.Perhaps the most beloved of Fowles's internationally bestselling works, The French Lieutenant's Woman is a feat of seductive storytelling that effectively invents anew the Victorian novel. "Filled with enchanting mysteries and magically erotic possibilities" (New York Times), the novel inspired the hugely successful 1981 film starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons and is today universally…


Book cover of The Scarlet Pimpernel

Jessica James Author Of Noble Cause: A Novel of Love and War

From my list on enemies to lovers romantic.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived in Gettysburg, PA, all of my life, so I’m drawn to historical fiction, especially the Civil War era. The 1860s is the perfect setting for the enemies-to-lovers trope, and I am lucky enough to be surrounded by history all of the time. In doing lots of research, I have found that enemies fell in love more often than you might think during the Civil War. I hope you enjoy this list of books that got me interested in reading and continue to keep my attention to this day.

Jessica's book list on enemies to lovers romantic

Jessica James Why did Jessica love this book?

My grandmother had this novel on her bookshelf, which is why I read it the first time, but I’ve read it over and over. This is my favorite classic love story that is not really enemies to lovers, but still has lots of emotion and conflict.

I love it because of the conflict and for its educational value in teaching about the French Revolution.

By Baroness Emmuska Orczy,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Scarlet Pimpernel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

HarperCollins is proud to present its incredible range of best-loved, essential classics.

"Vaguely she began to wonder ... which of these worldly men round her was the mysterious 'Scarlet Pimpernel,' who held the threads of such daring plots, and the fate of valuable lives in his hands."

In the early days of the bloody French Revolution, fleeing aristocrats are being captured and sent to the guillotine. But the mysterious Scarlet Pimpernel - along with his band of English gentlemen - is outwitting the revolutionaries. Known only by his calling card, he arrives in disguise and smuggles the nobles out of…


Book cover of Célestine: Voices from a French Village

Catherine Hewitt Author Of The Mistress of Paris: The 19th-Century Courtesan Who Built an Empire on a Secret

From my list on France and women since the Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for 19th-century French art, literature, and social history was enkindled in academia, but when my doctoral research uncovered the remarkable story of a forgotten 19th-century courtesan, I set out on a career in biography. During the 19th century, the ‘woman question’ was marked by both radical change and fierce dispute. Based on careful research, my writing seeks to lift this history out of the dusty annals of academia and bring its characters and events vividly to life for the 21st-century reader. My books introduce real women, piecing their stories back together in intimate detail so that readers can really share their successes and frustrations.

Catherine's book list on France and women since the Revolution

Catherine Hewitt Why did Catherine love this book?

A dusty bundle of 150-year-old letters found in a deserted house in rural France forms the premise of this intriguing literary hybrid. Author Gillian Tindall beckons us to follow her on an enthralling, real-life detective story, as she uncovers the life and loves of the letters’ addressee, an obscure provincial innkeeper’s daughter named Célestine Chaumettte. As she pieces Célestine’s story together, Tindall breathes life back into a whole slice of history and a community now vanished. A rich cast of forgotten characters springs from the pages as we see, taste, and smell the many textures of rural society in 19th-century France, along with the seasons and cycles that governed it. This evocative, haunting account of a country girl’s experience and place within this world really is social history at its best.

By Gillian Tindall,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Seven marriage proposals written to Celestine in the early 1860s, and carefully preserved by her, offer a glimpse of rural nineteenth century French life


Book cover of The Ebony Tower

Rosalind Brackenbury Author Of The Lost Love Letters of Henri Fournier

From my list on set in France with themes to match.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by these themes – love, France, mystery, women’s lives, war, and peace. My parents took me to France when I was 12 and I’ve spent years there in between and go back whenever I can. I started reading in French when sent to be an au pair in Switzerland when I was 17. My own novel, The Lost Love Letters Of Henri Fournier was absorbing to write as it contains all of the above. I found an unpublished novel of Fournier’s in a village in rural France a few years ago and decided I had to write about him and his lover, Pauline, who was a famous French actress. 

Rosalind's book list on set in France with themes to match

Rosalind Brackenbury Why did Rosalind love this book?

Another story that's impossible to forget – actually this is a novella in a collection of stories with this name. Again, about a lost house in a forest in France, an artist, a young man in love, and the two young women who bewitch him in turns. John Fowles is an English writer from the 1960s, whose work I loved when young and still do. He was much influenced by Alain-Fournier.

By John Fowles,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Ebony Tower, comprising a novella, three stories, and a translation of a medieval French tale, echoes themes from John Fowles's internationally celebrated novels as it probes the fitful relations between love and hate, pleasure and pain, fantasy and reality.


Book cover of The Old Regime and the French Revolution

Jeremy D. Popkin Author Of A New World Begins: The History of the French Revolution

From my list on the French Revolution and the ideals that inspired it.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by the history of the French Revolution ever since my father took me to visit Napoleon’s tomb in Paris when I was four years old and tried to explain to me who he was and what he had done. For more than forty years, I have been teaching and writing about this inexhaustible subject. The Revolution’s ideals of liberty and equality still speak to us, and the vivid personalities who clashed over them, ranging from Lafayette and Robespierre to the abolitionist priest Henri Grégoire and the ill-fated Marie Antoinette, bring the subject alive. Oh, and did I mention that one of the perks of being a historian of the French Revolution is that you get to make regular trips to Paris?

Jeremy's book list on the French Revolution and the ideals that inspired it

Jeremy D. Popkin Why did Jeremy love this book?

Like his classic Democracy in America, 19th-century French author Alexis de Tocqueville’s analysis of the great movement for freedom in his own country raises profound questions about the difficult relationship between liberty and equality. Modern scholarship has challenged some of Tocqueville’s assertions, but his warning that events often turn out very differently from what the actors in them intended is as relevant today as it was when his book was first published in 1856.

By Alexis de Tocqueville,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The most important contribution to our understanding of the French Revolution was written almost one hundred years ago by Alexis de Tocqueville.


Book cover of Citizens: A Chronicle 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?

Mr. Schama’s chronicle is considered the essential historical tome of the French Revolution. He presents the background and events leading to the revolution through its end when Robespierre was executed. The author leaves no stone unturned and many of the people, events, and outcomes have chilling similarities to our contemporary world more than 230-years later.

I like how Mr. Schama sticks to the facts. The reader is allowed to digest the events and reach their own conclusions. I think the lessons from the French Revolution are very fluid and every generation can learn from them.

At one point during the 1970s, Chinese Premier Zhou En-lai was asked what he thought was the significance of the French Revolution. He answered, “It’s too soon to tell.” I’m not sure I agree.

By Simon Schama,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the great landmarks of modern history publishing, Simon Schama's Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution is the most authoritative social, cultural and narrative history of the French Revolution ever produced.

'Monumental ... provocative and stylish, Simon Schama's account of the first few years of the great Revolution in France, and of the decades that led up to it, is thoughtful, informed and profoundly revisionist'
Eugen Weber, The New York Times Book Review

'The most marvellous book I have read about the French Revolution'
Richard Cobb, The Times

'Dazzling - beyond praise - He has chronicled the vicissitudes…


Book cover of The Structure of the Terror: The Example of Javogues and the Loire

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?

Lucas’ evocation of the mission of deputy Claude Javogues in the department of the Loire made me want to study the French Revolution. 

It is intricate, complicated, and messy, as might be expected of politics amidst the stresses of war, revolution, and terror. 

Lucas situates the motives and methods of a representative of the French central state in the context of local politics, specifically the politics of the Jacobin Clubs and revolutionary militants, who often had different needs and priorities. 

Their frequent conflict and occasional collaboration as well as their difficulties in getting the rest of the population to support the war effort and Revolutionary government make for gripping, though not always easy, reading. 

Book cover of Life in Revolutionary France

Christine Haynes Author Of Our Friends the Enemies: The Occupation of France After Napoleon

From my list on the French Revolution from a wide range of perspectives.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my research and teaching, I have long been fascinated with the effects of the French Revolution on France, Europe, and the broader world.  In my most recent book, Our Friends the Enemies, I sought to examine the aftermath of the wars provoked by the Revolution, which lasted (with only two short breaks) from 1792 to 1815.  In particular, I wanted to reconstruct the story—which had long been overlooked by historians—of the occupation of France by the Allies who defeated Napoleon.  Lasting from 1815 to 1818, this occupation was the first modern peacekeeping mission, with profound consequences for the history of France and Europe in the nineteenth century and beyond.

Christine's book list on the French Revolution from a wide range of perspectives

Christine Haynes Why did Christine love this book?

This new collection of essays by an international team of cutting-edge scholars allows readers to see how the French Revolution affected ordinary men and women, in Paris, the French provinces, and the French empire overseas.  Treating a broad range of topics—from female activism to property, justice, medicine, food, material culture, childhood, religion, and war—these essays collectively paint a vivid picture of everyday life during this tumultuous period.  Each essay is accompanied by a primary document from the time, which enables readers to see for themselves the kinds of sources on which historians rely in their work.  Inspired by innovative historiographical approaches to spaces, emotions, and artifacts, Life in Revolutionary France paves the way for new research into the everyday experience of revolution.

By Mette Herder (editor), Jennifer Heuer (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life in Revolutionary France as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The French Revolution brought momentous political, social, and cultural change. Life in Revolutionary France asks how these changes affected everyday lives, in urban and rural areas, and on an international scale.

An international cast of distinguished academics and emerging scholars present new research on how people experienced and survived the revolutionary decade, with a particular focus on individual and collective agency as discovered through the archival record, material culture, and the history of emotions. It combines innovative work with student-friendly essays to offer fresh perspectives on topics such as:

* Political identities and activism
* Gender, race, and sexuality
*…


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