100 books like Women of the French Revolution

By Winfred Stephens,

Here are 100 books that Women of the French Revolution fans have personally recommended if you like Women of the French Revolution. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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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 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 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 The Life and Opinions of Maximilien 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?

This is my own favourite. Realising that he could not make up his mind whether he loved Robespierre or hated him, Hampson staged his own dilemma by presenting Robespierre’s life through an imagined set of conversations between a version of himself and three fictional members of the public. Witty and insightful and superbly researched below the water-line, this brilliantly experimental biography is a neglected masterpiece.

By Norman Hampson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Life and Opinions of Maximilien Robespierre as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This investigation into the mind of Robespierre is now available in paperback. The book is presented as a discussion between three figures - a civil servant, a member of the Communist Party and a clergyman - representing different viewpoints in their reactions to evidence presented by a fourth figure, the narrator. In this way, the author sets out to display the contradictions in the character of Robespierre that so puzzled his contemporaries and continue to perplex historians. The book should be of interest to students of the French Revolution and general readers.


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 Last Letters: Prisons and Prisoners of the French Revolution 1793-1794

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?

Blanc discovered in the National Archives in Paris a remarkable cache of letters kept in an old tin labelled as the property of Fouquier-Tinville, the Public Prosecutor of the French revolutionary Tribunal. He was a man who in sending off the last batch of victims to be beheaded, even after hearing that Robespierre was dead and with him, the Terror, said ‘justice must run its course’

The letters, written by prisoners on the eve of their own execution, to wife, family, plangent pleas to be remembered – some containing a little keepsake: a shirt stud, maybe – were never delivered, but, on Fouquier’s order, impounded as possible evidence. Post mortem? What was the point? The letters are heart-rending, sad, pathetic, drained of hope, but as poignant a souvenir of the effect of the vicious law which was sending their authors to the scaffold as any you will read. Fouquier, whose…

By Olivier Blanc,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Drawing on a centuries-old file, this volume reproduces the last letters by prisoners of the French Revolution in the last few moments before their death, and sheds new light on this turbulent time


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 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.


Book cover of The Revolutionary Career of Maximilien 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?

Jordan’s is probably the most elegantly written of the five studies and stands out for providing a particularly generous allocation of space to Robespierre’s voice, telling the story of his life as much as possible through his own words. At the same time, Jordan’s intellectual biography is quietly attentive to providing a sense of the complex political environment in which any French revolutionary statesman had to act.

By David P. Jordan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Revolutionary Career of Maximilien Robespierre as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In changing forever the political landscape of the modern world, the French Revolution was driven by a new personality: the confirmed, self-aware revolutionary. Maximilien Robespierre originated the role, inspiring such devoted twentieth-century disciples as Lenin—who deemed Robespierre a Bolshevik avant la lettre.

Although he dominated the Committee for Public Safety only during the last year of his life, Robespierre was the Revolution in flesh and blood. He embodies its ideological essence, its unprecedented extremes, its absolutist virtues and vices; he incarnated a new, completely politicized self to lead a new, wholly regenerated society.

Yet as historian David P. Jordan observes,…


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Interested in the French Revolution, Maximilien Robespierre, and the working class?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the French Revolution, Maximilien Robespierre, and the working class.

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