The Dynamite Club
How A Bombing in Fin-de-siècle Paris Ignited the Age of Modern TerrorBook - 2009
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.