Beneath the glittering facade of Louis-Napoleon's Second Empire there were forces of seething social and political unrest. When France succumbed to the Prussian invaders these forces came to the surface and the Commune took over.
It ruled for only a brief seventy days before it died in a holocaust of fire and bloodshed that was far worse than anything perpetrated during France's Great Revolution of 1789, but it left behind an indelible mark which spread far beyond the boundaries of France. The lessons of the Left-wing revolution were even to serve Lenin well in 1917.
Victor Hugo called it l'Annee Terrible. 1871 was the year that saw France comprehensively defeated by the Prussians. It was also the year in which the Paris Commune ruled for seventy days - a rule that ended in the slaughter of twenty thousand Frenchmen by their fellow countrymen. It is an indelible blot in the history of France, worse even than the atrocities of the Revolution nearly a century earlier. The Commune and its Communards have become watchwords for Left-wing revolutionaries the world over and its theories influenced no-lesser figures than Marx, Lenin, and Chairman Mao. What the Commune achieved was a Republic strengthened against the restoration of monarchy, but from it grew the roots of the 1930s Front Populaire which divided France leaving it easy prey to a renewed German menace. Horne's style is incisive, his theories persuasive and his writing perceptive. This is history for grown ups. (Kirkus UK)