Stephen Clarke

The French Revolution & What Went Wrong

Author Stephen Clarke on his book, The French Revolution & What Went Wrong, which takes a fresh look at the French Revolution to dispel long held myths and correct the historical record.

Legend has it that, in a few busy weeks in July 1789, a despotic king, his freeloading wife, and a horde of over-privileged aristocrats, were displaced and then humanely dispatched. In the ensuing years, we are told, France was heroically transformed into an idyll of Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité . In fact, as Stephen Clarke argues in his informative and eye-opening account of the French Revolution, almost all of this is completely untrue.

In 1789 almost no one wanted to oust King Louis XVI, let alone guillotine him. While the Bastille was being stormed by out-of-control Parisians, the true democrats were at work in Versailles creating a British-style constitutional monarchy. The founding of the Republic in 1792 unleashed a reign of terror that caused about 300,000 violent deaths. And people hailed today as revolutionary heroes were dangerous opportunists, whose espousal of Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité did not stop them massacring political opponents and guillotining women for demanding equal rights.

Going back to original French sources, Stephen Clarke has uncovered the little-known and rarely told story of what was really happening in revolutionary France, as well as what went so tragically and bloodily wrong.

An entertaining and eye-opening look at the French Revolution and what went wrong, by Stephen Clarke, author of 1000 Years of Annoying the French and A Year in the Merde.

[Recorded March 31, 2022 and rebroadcast September 28, 2023]

Link to Book at Bookstore

History Camp Authors

    America's Summer Roadtrip 2020

      Stephen Clarke

      Stephen Clarke is a British author living in Paris, where he divides his time between writing and not writing. He has written several bestselling books about Anglo-French relations, including the novel A Year in the Merde (which has sold over a million copies worldwide) and the history book 1,000 Years of Annoying the French (a number-one bestseller in the UK). His latest novel is The Spy Who Inspired Me, about a female spy sent into in Occupied France in 1944. His other books include How the French Won Waterloo, Or Think They Did ; The French Revolution & What Went Wrong ; and Elizabeth II, Queen of Laughs.

      Stephen also writes with 87-year-old stand-up comedian D’yan Forest—he co-wrote her latest one-woman show Swingin’ on the Seine, which was performed in Paris and New York, and has co-written her memoirs, I Did It My Ways.

      Stephen occasionally performs his comedy songs in clubs—but mainly for fun (his own rather than the audience’s).

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