100 books like The Women of Paris and Their French Revolution

By Dominique Godineau, Katherine Streip (translator),

Here are 100 books that The Women of Paris and Their French Revolution fans have personally recommended if you like The Women of Paris and Their French Revolution. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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

Who am I?

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

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.

Twelve Who Ruled

By R.R. Palmer,

Book cover of Twelve Who Ruled: The Year of Terror in the French Revolution

Marisa Linton Author Of Choosing Terror: Virtue, Friendship, and Authenticity in the French Revolution

From the list on French Revolutionary terror.

Who am I?

I’m a historian of eighteenth-century France, above all, the French Revolution. Throughout my career, my primary goal has been to try to reconstruct the experience of revolution in all its dimensions. I have published extensively on subjects relating to the French Revolution, including the French revolutionary terror; the politics of the Jacobins; ideology, emotions, and revolution; revolutionary leaders – including Robespierre and Saint-Just; fear of conspiracy as a driver of actions; the influence of classical antiquity; women participants in the Revolution.

Marisa's book list on French Revolutionary terror

Why did Marisa love this book?

There is a reason why this book, published during the darkest days of World War Two, is still in print eighty years later. It is a profound study, deeply informed by Palmer’s own experience of living through a time of war, crisis, and fear. It focuses on the twelve men who served on the Committee of Public Safety and together played a leading role in revolutionary government throughout the critical period of the Year II (1793-94).

This was the first book I ever read on the period of existential crisis known as ‘the Terror’, and it helped me make sense of what was happening and why. If you want to know what it was like to be leading a government during war and revolution. Palmer’s book is the place to start. Forty years since I read it, Palmer’s book still occupies a prime place on my bookshelf.

By R.R. Palmer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Reign of Terror continues to fascinate scholars as one of the bloodiest periods in French history, when the Committee of Public Safety strove to defend the first Republic from its many enemies, creating a climate of fear and suspicion in revolutionary France. R. R. Palmer's fascinating narrative follows the Committee's deputies individually and collectively, recounting and assessing their tumultuous struggles in Paris and their repressive missions in the provinces. A foreword by Isser Woloch explains why this book remains an enduring classic in French revolutionary studies.

Book cover of Politics, Culture, and Class in the French Revolution

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

From the list on the terror in the French Revolution.

Who am I?

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

Why did Jeff love this book?

This book made me want to study with Lynn Hunt. 

Divided into “The Poetics of Power” and “The Sociology of Politics,” the better known first half explores rhetoric, symbolic forms of political practice, and imagery in novel ways that have influenced both my scholarship and my teaching. 

But I was even more struck by the second part where Hunt considered the backgrounds, age, occupations, and experience of Revolutionary political actors in four French cities as a way to understand the political geography of the Revolution, networks, culture brokers, and the emergence of a new political class. 

This approach shaped my dissertation and first book, but, more importantly it made me think about the link among and between cultural influences, socio-economic backgrounds, and the lived experience to understand the French Revolution.

By Lynn Hunt,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Politics, Culture, and Class in the French Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When this book was published in 1984, it reframed the debate on the French Revolution, shifting the discussion from the Revolution's role in wider, extrinsic processes (such as modernization, capitalist development, and the rise of twentieth-century totalitarian regimes) to its central political significance: the discovery of the potential of political action to consciously transform society by molding character, culture, and social relations. In a new preface to this twentieth-anniversary edition, Hunt reconsiders her work in the light of the past twenty years' scholarship.

The Gods Will Have Blood

By Anatole France,

Book cover of The Gods Will Have Blood

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

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

Who am I?

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

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…

The New Parisienne

By Lindsey Tramuta, Joann Pai (photographer),

Book cover of The New Parisienne: The Women & Ideas Shaping Paris

Janet Skeslien Charles Author Of The Paris Library

From the list on ups and downs in Paris: C'est La Vie.

Who am I?

I am the New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Library and Moonlight in Odessa. Like the authors on the list I selected for Shepherd, I'm skilled at turning experiences at minimum-wage jobs into novels. I earned $25 a month teaching full-time at a high school in Odessa, which is the setting for my first novel. My second book takes place at the American Library in Paris, where I was the programs manager. Setting is the start of my fiction, because I believe that where we are from has a lot to do with who we are. I hope that you’ll enjoy these selections.

Janet's book list on ups and downs in Paris: C'est La Vie

Why did Janet love this book?

The book is an insider guide to Paris and features interviews with amazing women who are making the city better and more interesting, one action, one thought, one sentence at a time. I finished the book wishing I could meet the Parisiennes over coffee to discuss the different challenges that they faced. 

By Lindsey Tramuta, Joann Pai (photographer),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a follow-up to the popular The New Paris, Lindsey Tramuta explores the impact that the women of Paris have had on the rapidly evolving culture of their city

The New Parisienne focuses on one of the city's most prominent features, its women. Lifting the veil on the mythologized Parisian woman-white, lithe, ever fashionable-Lindsey Tramuta demystifies this oversimplified archetype and recasts the women of Paris as they truly are, in all their complexity. Featuring 50 activists, creators, educators, visionaries, and disruptors-like Leila Slimani, Lauren Bastide, and Mayor Anne Hidalgo-the book reveals Paris as a blossoming cultural center of feminine power.…

The Mad Women's Ball

By Victoria Mas, Frank Wynne (translator),

Book cover of The Mad Women's Ball

Therese Down Author Of The Estate Agent

From the list on lighting up your imagination and your soul.

Who am I?

I love stories grounded in realism - but which also explore that there may be more to life than meets the eye; reasons beyond reason, for the way we dream, love, and think, and which come from unexpected sources. I love books whose characters really 'live', and stay with me, long after I've finished reading. I aspire to create such characters. In my novels, I seek to explore important themes from perspectives that often pitch rationality against what it cannot explain, or dismiss. The fiction I most love does this – whether it exploits mythology, suggests life beyond life, or uses magical realism to add ‘other’ dimensions to the ordinary. "There are more things… Horatio…"

Therese's book list on lighting up your imagination and your soul

Why did Therese love this book?

A startling kaleidoscope of a novel – indicated by the arresting cover.

Mas’ book whirled me into the heart of its narrative with fast-moving stories of women whose lives are radically changed by supernatural encounters which, in 19th century Paris, invite diagnoses of mental illness. What follows is a disorienting but compulsive account of 'madness', ‘other-world-ness’ - and the dangers of being different.

Beautifully imagined and expertly crafted, this novel engrossed me – and I learned a lot about mental asylums, and attitudes to women, in rather unenlightened times. A fabulous book.

By Victoria Mas, Frank Wynne (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Mad Women's Ball as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A darkly sumptuous tale of wicked spectacle, wild injustice and the insuppressible strength of women' EMMA STONEX, author of THE LAMPLIGHTERS

'In this darkly delightful Gothic treasure, Mas explores grief, trauma and sisterhood behind the walls of Paris' infamous Salpetriere hospital' PAULA HAWKINS, author of A SLOW FIRE BURNING

'A beautifully written debut...I have absolutely no doubt it will be one of my favourite novels of 2021.' AJ PEARCE, author of DEAR MRS BIRD

The Salpetriere asylum, 1885. All of Paris is in thrall to Doctor Charcot and his displays of hypnotism on women who have been deemed mad or…

France and Women, 1789-1914

By James F. McMillan,

Book cover of France and Women, 1789-1914: Gender, Society and Politics

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

From the list on France and women since the Revolution.

Who am I?

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

Why did Catherine love this book?

Every biographer needs a reliable social history, an authority that distils the essential, orders the chronology, and acts as a framework on which to pin all those facts. In his assured style, James F. McMillan artfully weaves the myriad strands of history into a seamless and engaging narrative. From prostitutes to housewives and from workers to salonières, the author spans the whole social spectrum to pinpoint not just what French women did, but why, and crucially, how their actions were received. The scrupulous research, swift pace, and crisp style make this comprehensive study a bible to anyone interested in the history of French women during the long 19th century.

By James F. McMillan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked France and Women, 1789-1914 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

France and Women, 1789-1914 is the first book to offer an authoritative account of women's history throughout the nineteenth century. James McMillan, author of the seminal work Housewife or Harlot, offers a major reinterpretation of the French past in relation to gender throughout these tumultuous decades of revolution and war.
This book provides a challenging discussion of the factors which made French political culture so profoundly sexist and in particular, it shows that many of the myths about progress and emancipation associated with modernisation and the coming of mass politics do not stand up to close scrutiny. It also reveals…

Working Girls

By Patricia Tilburg,

Book cover of Working Girls: Sex, Taste, and Reform in the Parisian Garment Trades, 1880-1919

Holly Grout Author Of The Force of Beauty: Transforming French Ideas of Femininity in the Third Republic

From the list on sex and the city in modern France.

Who am I?

Holly Grout is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Alabama. Her research interests include the cultural history of modern France, women and gender studies, and the history of beauty, fashion, celebrity, and consumer culture. Her current project, Playing Cleopatra: Inventing the Female Celebrity in Third Republic France, investigates many of the same themes around sexuality, female bodies, public decency, and spectacle. She chose these works in particular because they exemplify some of the best on sex and the city, and they address many of the same issues that Colette raised so long ago – suggesting that sex and the city was a turn-of-the-century fascination in Paris long before HBO turned it into an international cultural phenomenon.

Holly's book list on sex and the city in modern France

Why did Holly love this book?

Tilburg transports us from the world of art and artistry examined in the texts above to examine how new notions of sex and sexuality impacted the lives of ordinary working women. Through the figure of the idealized working Parisienne, the midinette, and the real-life woman worker she represented, Tilburg demonstrates how contemporaries evoked women’s working bodies as symbols of French taste and craftsmanship while also regarding them as potentially dangerous sexual and political subordinates. A painstakingly researched book, Working Girls brilliantly captures the insidious ways in which woman as cultural symbol covers over the socioeconomic hardships and political limitations real women encountered in everyday life.

By Patricia Tilburg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As the twentieth century dawned and France entered an era of extraordinary labor activism and industrial competition, an insistently romantic vision of the Parisian garment worker was deployed by politicians, reformers, and artists to manage anxieties about economic and social change. Nostalgia about a certain kind of France was written onto the bodies of the capital's couture workers throughout French pop culture from the 1880s to the 1930s. And the
midinettes-as these women were called- were written onto the geography of Paris itself, by way of festivals, monuments, historic preservation, and guide books. The idealized working Parisienne stood in for,…

Communal Luxury

By Kristin Ross,

Book cover of Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune

Anitra Nelson Author Of Beyond Money: A Postcapitalist Strategy

From the list on anti-capitalist struggles for a postcapitalism.

Who am I?

I don’t think of myself as a dreamer but, rather, a hard-headed activist scholar. Globally, most of us live under the domination of production for trade. We have ceded co-governance of production—collectively deciding what we produce, how we produce it, and for whom—to the abstract logic of markets operated via money. We face two great challenges reproduced by capitalism—growing socio-political inequities and ecological unsustainability. So, I argue that we must replace monetary values and operating systems with ‘real’, social and ecological, values and production for demand, for the basic needs of humans and the planet. Postcapitalism means moving beyond money to realize our self-value and emancipation. 

Anitra's book list on anti-capitalist struggles for a postcapitalism

Why did Anitra love this book?

The best historians and anthropologists either draw you into a subject as if you were living it or they directly connect their topic to life in the here and now.

Kristin Ross does both in Communal Luxury which crystalizes a radical imaginary drawn from a vividly reproduced past and posits it as a contemporary manifesto. An irresistible re-reading of the Paris Commune and all it stands for in the present and, more particularly, for our joint futures. 

By Kristin Ross,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Kristin Ross's new work on the thought and culture of the Communard uprising of 1871 resonates with the motivations and actions of contemporary protest, which has found its most powerful expression in the reclamation of public space. Today's concerns-internationalism, education, the future of labor, the status of art, and ecological theory and practice-frame and inform her carefully researched restaging of the words and actions of individual Communards. This original analysis of an event and its centrifugal effects brings to life the workers in Paris who became revolutionaries, the significance they attributed to their struggle, and the elaboration and continuation of…

Life in Revolutionary France

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

Book cover of Life in Revolutionary France

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

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

Who am I?

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

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

5 book lists we think you will like!

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