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The Furies:
Violence and Terror in the French and Russian Revolutions
Arno J. Mayer

Book Description | Table of Contents
Chapter 1


"There are many ways to read this long, rich and idiosyncratic book. As Mayer warns, objective and value-free study of the subject is impossible . . . Mayer traces the road from reform to rage and terror, one of menace and fear, vengeance and countervengeance, exhilaration, self-delusion and mutual carnage. He has wise things to say about the blending of traditional enmities and new war cries, and about the clash between urban imperialism and rural distrust, about the satisfaction of butchering familiar enemies rather than complete strangers, about the rise of informing as a civic virtue. . . . [A] long, rich, and idiosyncratic book."--Eugen Weber, New York Times Book Review

"Mayer boasts a long record of intellectual provocation. . . . [Here he] minimizes the rold of both ideology and the personality of the revolutionaries. Violence, he argues, resulted from seismic collisions of old order and new. . . . Indeed, Mayer demonstrates, some of the bloodiest episodes of both revolutions occurred as old animosities between Christians and Jews, Catholics and Protestants, and contending groups in the countryside turned into armed antagonisms."--Corey Robin, Boston Review

"[Mayer] insists that contrary to such conservative scolds as Edmund "Burke and Hannah Arendt, violence is not the product of ideological intoxication; it is an objective historical necessity in all polities. Citing an array of hard-headed thinkers from Machiavelli to Hobbes to Carl Schmitt. . . .Mayer affirms that violence has been indispensable to every 'founding act' in history, even in such legalistic polities as our own--a proposition which it is difficult to dispute."--Martin Malia, Los Angeles Times Book Review


"A remarkable new insight into the comparative social dynamics of revolutions and terrors, which provides very strong arguments against common stereotypes and misleading conservative interpretations."--Pierre Bourdieu

"In his comparative analysis of the Great French and the Russian October Revolution, Arno Mayer focuses on the interaction between revolution and counterrevolution as a source of exorbitant violence and terror that emerges less from ideological visions of the revolutionaries than from unforeseen pressures generated by the combination of external and civil war. By alluding to the ancient "furies", Mayer underlines the self-escalation of terror, usually connected with racial and religious hatred, and pleads for a critical evaluation of the revolutionary events in Russia from February 1917 to the climax of the Stalinist period. His book is a masterpiece of comparative history."--Hans Mommsen

"Arno Mayer's The Furies is an eloquent and passionate reconsideration of the role of violence and terror, not only in the French and Russian Revolutions, but in the political institutions in general. The comparison between the French revolution and its aftermath and the Russian experience is extremely illuminating, offering new insights into revolution--as an ongoing dialectic between old and new orders, in which vengeance and violence erupt as part of the process of struggle and breakdown."--Richard Wortman, Columbia University

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File created: 4/21/2017

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