Episode 77: The Paris Commune

Host: Joan Neuberger, Professor, Department of History, UT-Austin
Guest: John Merriman, Charles Seymour Professor of History, Yale

The Rue de Rivoli after the attack on the Paris Commune

For four months in 1871, angry citizens of Paris seized control of the city after a humiliating defeat against the Prussian Empire and the collapse of the Second Empire. The radical and revolutionary government and its brutal suppression was the inspiration for Karl Marx’s “dictatorship of the proletariat.” Although the experimental regime met a violent end, it has become part of the French national narrative.

John Merriman, Charles Seymour Professor of History at Yale, has just published a book about the Paris Commune that takes a new look at how a radical government managed to find support from rich and poor, conservative and liberal, to try to regain dignity in the face of France’s brutal defeat.

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