Colin Jones is a professor of history at Queen Mary, University of London. His books include The Great Nation: France from Louis XV to Napoleon, Paris: Biography of a City, and The Smile Revolution in Eighteenth-Century France. (June 2017)


Did Emotions Cause the Terror?

Dirk Bogarde (right) as Sydney Carton at the guillotine in A Tale of Two Cities, 1958

The Coming of the Terror in the French Revolution

by Timothy Tackett
In 2015, the French literary world was eagerly devouring Temps glaciaires, the latest thriller from the eminent crime novelist Fred Vargas.1 Its plot revolves around the doings of a fictive Association d’Étude des écrits de Maximilien Robespierre (an evident spoof of the Paris-based Société des études robespierristes, the scholarly …

Paris: Notes from Underground

Frontispiece of Pierre Manuel’s La Police de Paris dévoilée (The Paris Police Unveiled), 1790, one ‘of a series of sensational assaults on the Old Regime political establishment’; from Robert Darnton’s The Devil in the Holy Water

The Devil in the Holy Water, or the Art of Slander from Louis XIV to Napoleon

by Robert Darnton
Why was there a revolution in France in 1789? Historians have rarely been in consensus about the answer and most currently credit a variety of factors including economic hardship, financial crisis, political mismanagement, and cultural and ideological transformation. Robert Darnton wants to add to the list. His latest book, The …

At the Heart of the Terror

Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution

by Ruth Scurr
A black cloud has always hovered over the name of the French Revolutionary politician Maximilien Robespierre (1758–1794). The city of Paris has no grand memorial to him. The rues Saint-Just and Robert-Lindet and the boulevard Carnot commemorate other of his colleagues from the Committee of Public Safety, which ruled France …