Robespierre was only thirty-six when he died, sent to the guillotine where he had sent thousands ahead of him. Robespierre and the Revolution were inseparable: a single inflexible tyrant. But what turned a shy young lawyer into the living embodiment of the Terror at its most violent? Admirers called him 'the great incorruptible'; critics dubbed him a 'monster', a 'bloodthirsty charlatan'.
Ruth Scurr sheds new light on this puzzle, tracing Robespierre's life from a troubled childhood in provincial Arras to the passionate idealist, fighting for the rights of the people, and sweeping on to the implacable leader prepared to sign the death warrant for his closest friends.
"There is a dazzling light of intellect as much as a thunderous darkness of reality in her fine, humanising portrait"
"Scurr has an important tale to tell, and she tells it judiciously"
"Ruth Scurr's aim, in this well written first book, is to provide an accessible, up - to date biography that draws on all this work, and represents Robespierre as a human being rather than as a monster of legend. She succeeds impressively"
"This splendidly balanced account of an unbalanced mind proves that there are monsters of virtue as well as monsters of vice"
"It is judicious, balanced, and admirably clear at every point....It is quite the calmest and least abusive history of the Revolution you will ever read"