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Ballad of the Anarchist Bandits


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About the Author

John Merriman is the Charles Seymour Professor of History at Yale University and the author of several books, including Massacre: The Life and Death of the Paris Commune, The Dynamite Club: How a Bombing in Fin-de-Siecle Paris Ignited the Age of Modern Terror, and the classic History of Modern Europe. He is the recipient of Yale's Byrnes/Sewell Teaching Prize, a French Docteur Honoris Causa, and speaks frequently at universities across the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Australia.


Author John Merriman delivers a ripping good yarn with a lineup of compelling characters .... [the book] leaves the reader with some timely questions about where a country should set the balance between security and civil rights for people with unpopular views.--MinneapolisStar Tribune
Electrifying.... In addition to his vivid portrayals of the principal characters and events, the author provides informative context to the crimes, outlining the severe exploitation of workers in this supposedly idyllic time in Parisian history. This is a nuanced and fascinating dissection of the events by a riveting storyteller with a sympathetic (but unsentimental) view of the anarchists' cause.--Publishers Weekly
France's long history of antiterrorist legislation is given a timely appraisal in Ballad of the Anarchist Bandits, a riveting history of the Bonnot Gang, the brutal band of murdering anarchists who rattled the City of Light in the early 20th century....a vivid recounting. [Merriman's] eye for detail is particularly acute.--Tobias Grey, TheWall Street Journal
I found this book fascinating: a Bonnie and Clyde story set in the heady Paris of a century ago, a Paris etched by Merriman with erudition, a fine eye for lively detail, and a lightness of touch. It also fills in, in a way we have not had before, an important tragic early episode in the life of the man who later became one of the 20th century's great eyewitnesses to tyranny, Victor Serge.--Adam Hochschild, author of Spain in Our Hearts
In Ballad of the Anarchist Bandits John Merriman spins a true crime story full of intrigue, passion, and political significance. He paints an unflinching picture of a society torn apart by inequality and of the people who took desperate measures to try to remedy it. A compelling perspective that is richly resonant today.--Maya Jasanoff, author of Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary War
John Merriman's Ballad of the Anarchist Bandits tells another story of the Belle Epoque-not the romance of the 'Ville Lumiere' with its dazzling palaces and grand hotels but the dark tale of a city in the grip of a crime wave...Merriman's subject is the rise and fall of the Bonnot Gang, but he shrewdly wraps his historical analysis in the arms of a love story.--MarilynStasio, The New York Times Book Review
Merriman uncovers the dark side of the famed belle epoque, offering a fresh perspective on the reality of life for much of the city's population.... [A] revelatory history...of the dire consequences of inequality and injustice.--Kirkus Reviews
Merriman's fresh look at the Bonnot gang, whose violent crime spree riveted and terrified Belle Epoque Parisians, emphasizes the unforgiving socioeconomic inequalities of the era and the allure of anarchism to the desperate....The result is a lively, erudite work that, without romanticizing the Bonnot gang's crimes, manages to humanize those in their milieu, and perhaps suggest lessons for the present.--Booklist, starred review
No one knows the rebellious underworlds of fin-de-siecle France as well as John Merriman, and no one can write about them as vividly. Ballad of the Anarchist Bandits is a beautifully told story, by turns comic, tragic, hopeful, despairing, and intensely human.--David A. Bell, author of Shadows of Revolution: Reflections on France, Past and Present
Once again, John Merriman has written a gripping tale about fin-de-siecle Paris. By tracing the slowly merging destinies of the Bonnot Gang, a group of anarchist-inspired criminals, and Victor Kibaltchiche and Rirette Maitrejean, an anarchist couple who refused violence, Merriman has written an absorbing tragedy that also plumbs the history of radical politics in France.--Robert D. Zaretsky, author of A Life Worth Living: Albert Camus and the Quest for Meaning and Boswell's Enlightenment
The author's Parisian scholarship shines as he builds a vivid and meticulously detailed image of the period, creating the foundation for a multi-layered and three-dimensional story of what happens when oppressed people are pushed to their limits. Merriman's especially timely work gives us a robust understanding of the revolutionary thought process, encouraging us to question what lies beneath society's shining surface.--Library Journal
Thorough and sweeping... Merriman's book addresses larger questions about anarchist ideologies and the forces of order in Belle Epoque society.... He manages, through imagistic detail and pacing, to build suspense even when the historical outcome is known.... We know we are in expert hands.--H-France Review
Ballad of the Anarchist Bandits reads like a novel.... engaging and suspenseful, and the moral underlying in the story, wealth inequality, rings true today.... a must-read for fans of history and true crime alike. It grips the reader and pulls you into a tale so wonderful you almost can't believe it's true.--DanArel, HuffPost

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