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The Best Books About The French Revolution

February 15, 2017
The Best Books About The French Revolution

“What are the best books about The French Revolution?” We looked at 86 of the top French Revolution books, aggregating and ranking them so we could answer that very question!

The 86 best books about the French Revolution are split between fiction and nonfiction titles. The top 9 books, all appearing on 2 or more lists, are below with images, summaries, and additional links to learn more. The remaining books, all appearing on a single list, as well as the lists themselves, can be found in alphabetical order at the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!

Top 9 Fiction & Nonfiction French Revolution Books

9 .) Citizens by Simon Schama

Lists It Appears On:

  • About
  • Five Books

In this New York Times bestseller, award-winning author Simon Schama presents an ebullient country, vital and inventive, infatuated with novelty and technology–a strikingly fresh view of Louis XVI’s France. One of the great landmarks of modern history publishing

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8 .) City of Darkness, City of Light by Marge Piercy

Lists It Appears On:

  • Madame Guillotine
  • Jungle Find

For Claire Lacombe and Pauline Leon, two poor women of eighteenth-century France, the lofty ideals of the coming revolution could not seem more abstract. But when Claire sees the gaping disparity between the poverty she has known and the lavish lives of aristocrats as her theater group performs in their homes, and Pauline witnesses the execution of local bread riot leaders, both are driven to join the uprising. They, along with upper-class women like Madame Manon Roland, who ghostwrites speeches for her politician husband and runs a Parisian salon where revolutionaries gather, will play critical roles in the French people’s bloody battle for liberty and equality.

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7 .) Fatal Purity – Robespierre and the French Revolution by Ruth Scurr

Lists It Appears On:

  • Kate’s Blog
  • About

“Since his execution by guillotine in July 1794, Maximilien Robespierre has been contested terrain for historians. Was he a bloodthirsty charlatan or the only true defender of revolutionary ideals? The first modern dictator or the earliest democrat? Was his extreme moralism a heroic virtue or a ruinous flaw?

Against the dramatic backdrop of the French Revolution, historian Ruth Scurr tracks Robespierre’s evolution from provincial lawyer to devastatingly efficient revolutionary leader, righteous and paranoid in equal measure. She explores his reformist zeal, his role in the fall of the monarchy, his passionate attempts to design a modern republic, even his extraordinary effort to found a perfect religion. And she follows him into the Terror, as the former death- penalty opponent makes summary execution the order of the day, himself falling victim to the violence at the age of thirty-six.”

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6 .) Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini

Lists It Appears On:

  • The Guardian
  • Jungle Find

Set during the French Revolution, the tale of the man “who was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.” This classic novel of swashbuckling adventure and sweeping romance is also a thought-provoking commentary on class, inequality, and the individual’s role in society―a story that has become Rafael Sabatini’s enduring legacy.

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5 .) The Glass Blowers by Daphne du Maurier

Lists It Appears On:

  • Kate’s Blog
  • The Guardian

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4 .) The Way to the Lantern by Audrey Erskine Lindop

Lists It Appears On:

  • Madame Guillotine
  • Jungle Find

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3 .) The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emma Orczy

Lists It Appears On:

  • Madame Guillotine
  • Flavorwire
  • The Guardian
  • Jungle Find

In this historical adventure set during the French Revolution, the elusive Scarlet Pimpernel sets out to rescue men, women and children facing the horrors of the guillotine, while evading the relentless pursuit of his arch enemy, Chauvelin.

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2 .) A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel

Lists It Appears On:

  • Madame Guillotine
  • Jungle Find
  • Kate’s Blog
  • Flavorwire
  • The Guardian

It is 1789, and three young provincials have come to Paris to make their way. Georges-Jacques Danton, an ambitious young lawyer, is energetic, pragmatic, debt-ridden–and hugely but erotically ugly. Maximilien Robespierre, also a lawyer, is slight, diligent, and terrified of violence. His dearest friend, Camille Desmoulins, is a conspirator and pamphleteer of genius. A charming gadfly, erratic and untrustworthy, bisexual and beautiful, Camille is obsessed by one woman and engaged to marry another, her daughter. In the swells of revolution, they each taste the addictive delights of power, and the price that must be paid for it.

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1 .) A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Lists It Appears On:

  • Madame Guillotine
  • Jungle Find
  • Kate’s Blog
  • Flavorwire
  • The Guardian

A TALE OF TWO CITIES (1859) is a novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. The novel depicts the plight of the French peasantry demoralized by the French aristocracy in the years leading up to the revolution, the corresponding brutality demonstrated by the revolutionaries toward the former aristocrats in the early years of the revolution, and many unflattering social parallels with life in London during the same period. It follows the lives of several characters through these events. A Tale of Two Cities was published in weekly installments from April 1859 to November 1859 in Dickens’s new literary periodical titled All the Year Round. All but three of Dickens’s previous novels had appeared only as monthly installments. With sales of about 200 million copies, A Tale of Two Cities is the bestselling novel in history.

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The #10-86 Additional Books About The French Revolution


# Book Author Lists
(Books Appear On 1 List Each)
10 A Dish Taken Cold (Otto Penzler Books) Anne Perry Jungle Find
11 A Far Better Rest Susanne Alleyn, Charles Dickens Jungle Find
12 A Sharpness On The Neck (The Dracula Series) Fred Saberhagen Jungle Find
13 A Treasury of Regrets Susanne Alleyn Jungle Find
14 Annette Vallon Historical Fiction
15 Becoming Marie Antoinette Historical Fiction
16 Before the Deluge Michael Sonenscher Coop
17 Behind Closed Doors – At Home in Georgian Englandby Amanda Vickery Kate’s Blog
18 Blundering to Glory Owen Connelly History Monocle
19 Confessions of Marie Antoinette Historical Fiction
20 Contesting the French Revolution Paul R. Hanson Coop
21 Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow Historical Fiction
22 El Dorado Further Adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel (Dover Books on Literature & Drama) Baroness Orczy Jungle Find
23 Farewell My Queen Chantal Thomas. Madame Guillotine
24 French Society in Revolution 1789 – 1799 David Andress About
25 From Deficit to Deluge: The Origins of the French Revolution T. E. Kaiser About
26 Game of Patience (Aristide Ravel Mysteries) Susanne Alleyn Jungle Find
27 History of the French Revolution from 1789 – 1814 Francois Mignet Kate’s Blog
28 Illusion Paula Volsky Jungle Find
29 Insatiable Historical Fiction
30 Interpreting the French Revolution François Furet Five Books
31 Ladies of the Grand Tour Brian Dolan Kate’s Blog
32 Les Liaisons Dangereuses Pierre Choderlos de Laclos The Guardian
33 London in the Eighteenth Century Jerry White Kate’s Blog
34 Madame du Barry Historical Fiction
35 Madame Tussaud Historical Fiction
36 Mistress of the Revolution Catherine Delors. Madame Guillotine
37 My Revolution Promenades in Paris 1789-1794 Alex Karmel, Restif de la Bretonne Jungle Find
38 Napoleon and his Collaborators: The Making of a Dictatorship Isser Woloch History Monocle
39 Napoleon and the Transformation of Europe Alexander Grab History Monocle
40 Napoleon Bonaparte Alan Schom History Monocle
41 Napoleon Symphony Anthony Burgess The Guardian
42 Napoleon: How to Make War Ediciones La Calavera History Monocle
43 Napoleon’s Letters edited JM Thompson History Monocle
44 Ninety-Three Victor Hugo, Ayn Rand Jungle Find
45 Our Lady of the Potatoes Duncan Sprott The Guardian
46 Pure Andrew Miller The Guardian
47 Revolutionary Ideas: An Intellectual History of the French Revolution Israel About
48 Sans-Culottes Michael Sonenscher Coop
49 Season of Light Katharine McMahon. Madame Guillotine
50 The Ancien Régime and the Revolution Alexis de Tocqueville Five Books
51 The Campaigns of Napoleon David G. Chandler History Monocle
52 The Devil’s Laughter Frank Yerby Jungle Find
53 The Duel Joseph Conrad The Guardian
54 The Elusive Pimpernel (Dover Books on Literature & Drama) Baroness Orczy Jungle Find
55 The End of the Old Order: Napoleon and Europe, 1801-1805 Frederick Kagan History Monocle
56 The English – A Social History 1066 – 1945 Christopher Hibbert Kate’s Blog
57 The Fallen Angels A Novel of the French Revolution A Novel of the French Revolution Susannah Kells Jungle Find
58 The French Passion Diane Dupont Jungle Find
59 The French Revolution – Rethinking the debate Gwynne Lewis About
60 The French Revolution – The Essential Readings edited Ronald Schechter About
61 The French Revolution 1789 – 1799 Peter McPhee About
62 The French Revolution and Napoleonic Era Owen Connelly History Monocle
63 The French Revolution Sourcebook edited John Hardman About
64 The French Revolutionary Wars G. Fremont-Barnes About
65 The Frenchwoman Jeanne MacKin Jungle Find
66 The Gods Are Athirst Anatole France, Alfred Allinson Jungle Find
67 The Gods Are Thirsty A Novel of the French Revolution Tanith Lee Jungle Find
68 The Gods Will Have Blood (Les Dieux Ont Soif) Anatole France. Madame Guillotine
69 The Incorruptible; A tale of revolution and royalty Helma de Bois Jungle Find
70 The Lacemaker and the Princess Kimberly Brubaker Bradley Historical Fiction
71 The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel Emmuska Orczy, Baroness Orczy Jungle Find
72 The Mind of Napoleon edited J. Christopher Herold History Monocle
73 The New Regime Isser Woloch Five Books
74 The Origins of the French Revolution William Doyle About
75 The Origins of the French Revolutionary Wars TCW Blanning History Monocle
76 The Oxford History of the French Revolution William Doyle About
77 The Queen’s Confession Victoria Holt, Philippa Carr, Jean Plaidy, Eleanor Hibbert Jungle Find
78 The Rose Grower Michelle de Kretser. Madame Guillotine
79 The Sword of Satan H. M. Mons Jungle Find
80 The Terror in the French Revolution Hugh Gough About
81 The Terror: Civil War in the French Revolution David Andress About
82 The Triumph of the Scarlet Pimpernel Emmuska Orczy, Baroness Orczy Jungle Find
83 The War of Wars: The Great European Conflict , 1793-1815 Robert Harvey History Monocle
84 Twelve Who Ruled RR Palmer Five Books
85 Veronique Virginia Coffman Jungle Find
86 War and Society in Revolutionary Europe 1770 – 1870 Geoffrey Best Kate’s Blog

10 Best French Revolution Book Sources/Lists

Source Article
About Top Books: The French Revolution
Coop French Revolution
Five Books Lynn Hunt recommends the best books on The French Revolution
Flavorwire 5 Unforgettable French Revolution Moments From Literature and Film
Historical Fiction Category: French Revolution
History Monocle A Review of Books about the French Revolution and Napoleonic Eras
Jungle Find Best And The Worst of Fiction set in the French Revolution on Amazon
Kate’s Blog Best Research Books for the French Revolution, chosen by Charlotte Betts
Madame Guillotine Top ten French Revolution novels
The Guardian The top 10 French Revolution novels


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