The Dynamite Club

The Dynamite Club

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

Book - 2009
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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
0618555986
Branch Call Number: 363.325 MERRIMAN
Characteristics: 259 p., [8] p. of plates : ill., map ; 22 cm

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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.

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