The Dynamite Club

The Dynamite Club

How A Bombing in Fin-de-siècle Paris Ignited the Age of Modern Terror

Book - 2009
Average Rating:
Rate this:

The fascinating story of a long-forgotten "war on terror" that has much in common with our own

On a February evening in 1894, a young radical intellectual named Émile Henry drank two beers at an upscale Parisian restaurant, then left behind a bomb as a parting gift. This incident, which rocked the French capital, lies at the heart of The Dynamite Club, a mesmerizing account of Henry and his cohorts and the war they waged against the bourgeoisie--setting off bombs in public places, killing the president of France, and eventually assassinating President McKinley in 1901.

Paris in the belle époque was a place of leisure, elegance, and power. Newly electrified, the city's wide boulevards were lined with posh department stores and outdoor cafés. But prosperity was limited to a few. Most lived in dire poverty, and workers and intellectuals found common cause in a political philosophy--anarchism--that embraced the overthrow of the state by any means necessary.

Yet in targeting civilians to achieve their ends, the dynamite bombers charted a new course. Seeking martyrdom, believing fervently in their goal, and provoking a massive government reaction that only increased their ranks, these "evildoers" became, in effect, the first terrorists in modern history.

Surprising and provocative, The Dynamite Club is a brilliantly researched account that illuminates a period of dramatic social and political change--and subtly asks us to reflect upon our own.

Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009
ISBN: 9780618555987
Branch Call Number: 363.325 MERRIMAN
Characteristics: 259 p., [8] p. of plates : ill., map ; 22 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Aug 08, 2018

I read Yale professor's book on the Paris Commune, which led me to this book about a young radical who bombed a cafe in late 1800s Paris. Merriman vividly sketches the various political movements (anarchism, communism, socialism, nihilism) that were blowing around the continent, and he sees this act as one of the first in a long line of political motivated terrorism and murder that would plague the 20th century.

Dec 20, 2012

The Dynamite Club --- by John Merriman. Paris, during the closing years of the nineteenth century, was a place of extremes. The ranks of the impoverished were huge. They lived in poverty. They lived in hunger. They died before their time. They watched as their wives died, as their children died. Those who worked did so under wretched circumstances: the hours were long; on what they were paid they could scarcely provide their families with food and warmth. The bourgeoisies on the other hand were well provided for. They lived well. They ate well. They were well clothed. And the upper classes --- well they lived very well in deed. A corrupt society where the very rich grew fatter on the backs of the state was enough to push some to acts of `propaganda by the deed``. Alfred Nobel`s discovery of dynamite made a great explosive power available in a very compact form: just the sort of thing that, with a little skill could be put to devious purpose to express or implement anarchistic philosophy. This book is very readable: don`t expect it to be a page-turning work of fiction.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further


Subject Headings

No similar edition of this title was found at Arapahoe Libraries.

Try searching for The Dynamite Club to see if Arapahoe Libraries owns related versions of the work.

Suggest for Purchase

To Top