Carolyn J. EichnerMay 18, 2022
The Paris Commune
A Brief History
Rutgers University Press 2022
Carolyn Eichner's new book, The Paris Commune: A Brief History (Rutgers University Press, 2022) was published on March 18th, the anniversary of the eruption of Paris Commune of 1871. In this accessible history of the 72-day uprising during which the working-class people of Paris established their own government; experimented with forms of radical democracy and social change; and resisted the forces of the French state and military, Eichner explores the Commune within the context of nineteenth-century political, economic, and cultural history in France and beyond its borders. Structured in three parts/chapters that take up the metaphorics of illumination, fluorescence, and explosion, the book follows the lives, ideas, and actions of Communards who sought to bring about a new society, and were ultimately crushed in their efforts. After two and a half months, the French government under the leadership of Adolphe Thiers crushed the Commune during the "Bloody Week" of May 21st-28th. Thousands of Communards met their violent ends in the streets of Paris while others were arrested, tried, and deported.
The book is short and rich, clear and dramatic, an excellent resource for students, readers academic and non, anyone interested in a smart, clear introduction to these events and figures with such mythological status in the histories of popular resistance and revolution. It is also a fascinating account for those more familiar with the Commune. Attentive to the role of women and gender throughout, and interested in understanding the Commune's achievements as well as its limitations, Eichner's account revisits some of the long-standing debates about the Commune's course, and its legacies. Bonne lecture!
Roxanne Panchasi is an Associate Professor of History at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada who specializes in twentieth and twenty-first century France and its empire. If you have a recent title to suggest for the podcast, please send her an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).