Twelve Who Ruled

1255 words 6 pages
Twelve Who Ruled Book Review

The year of terror is one of the most complex and misunderstood periods in the French Revolution. Palmer, in his book, Twelve Who Ruled, however, takes this period and skillfully turns it into a written masterpiece. The book is narrated from the point of view of someone with an omniscient knowledge of the subject matter, who is reflecting back on the period from the outside. The book tells the story of a brief moment in history when twelve men (Robespierre, Barere, Saint Just, Couthon, Lindet, Carnot, Saint-Andre, Prieur, Varenne, Herbois, Scholles, and Duvernois) ruled France; even though they were technically under the control of the Convention. Palmer begins by giving the reader an overview of
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Throughout this book, Palmer discusses his explanation for the terror. He does a particularly good job of distinguishing between actions which defended the Revolution, and the general practice of terror which undermined the legitimacy of the government. He believes that some of the actions of the government were carried to the extreme. These beliefs are extremely evident in his writing, especially when he discusses the economy, the need for regulated prices, and a revolutionary army. This army was to march around the nation executing farmers who were hoarding their grain and being "counter revolutionaries." However, his conjectures are not universally present in the book, but only in particular places where he deems it necessary to express his views. As is stated above, Robespierre is one of the principal personalities in the narration. This is due to the fact that he was the head of the Committee of Public Safety; in other words, for approxametely ten months, Robespierre was more or less the head of the nation. Because he was the primary person responsible for the terror, he held an extremely tenable ideological rationale for it. Palmer discusses Robespierre's justification from several distinct prospectives, including but not limited to, that of Robespierre himself, the Jacobins, the Convention, the other members of the Committee of Public Safety, the "counter revolutionaries",


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