Troubador Rabble!

Released: 28/09/2021

ISBN: 9781800464254

eISBN: 9781800469808

Format: Paperback/eBook

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A Story of the Paris Commune


1870.17-year-old apprentice bookbinder Étienne Bonin travels from revolutionary Lyon to even more revolutionary Paris seeking excitement and professional opportunity. By the spring of 1871 he is deeply committed to the insurrection for workers’ power, to a new lover — Rose Durand, 16-year-old coworker and budding feminist from Belleville—and to his new comrades. Together they experience festive celebrations, institutional innovations, military disasters and the final “week of blood.”

Étienne and Rose’s coming of age in the midst of a revolution is also the story of the growth of a powerful working-class movement. The tradesmen and women involved in creating and defending the Paris Commune of 1871were not just bookbinders, but also bronze workers, tin smiths, shoemakers, typographers, printers, laundresses, clothing and textile workers, carpenters and many others.

Rabble” is the closest English equivalent to "canaille", the way the privileged classes described the rough and ready workers who had seized the city and were remaking it as a bastion of liberty, equality and fraternity. Those tradesmen and women managed to create the first self-governing, proto-communist society in the modern world, in what was the most advanced capitalist city of its age. They then had to defend it against massive bombardment and attacks, which would finally annihilate the Commune but not its ideals. These would be reborn in revolutions from 1917, and to our present day.

"Rabble!" book discussion about the Paris Commune with guest Geoffrey Fox - Podcast, 20 July 2021 (1 hour 13 minutes)

An exhaustively researched account of the events of the 1870 Paris Commune phenomenon, which, thugh it failed, influenced many of the great political and philosophical thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries, in a fictionalized form. As the story unfolds, we grow to sympathize with the characters, who are not only portrayed as individuals, but also as proponents of various threads of the movement. On finishing the book, one misses their company! Historical fiction at its best!

by Cindy

I had a vague knowledge of these events, and probably thought they'd been important, but I would not have approached a history textbook before reading this fascinating story. Who would imagine that what happened back then would so impact the present? I found the story easy to track and came away really informed on top of it all.

by Ivan

Geoffrey Fox

Born in Chicago, Geoffrey Fox graduated from Harvard in 1963 and worked as a community organizer in Caracas and in Latino barrios of Chicago before earning a PhD in sociology. His books on Latin American society and culture have been published by HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and the University of Arizona Press, which published Hispanic Nation, his best-selling book on the emerging power of Latinos in the U.S. His articles, op-eds and book reviews have appeared in The Nation, The New York Times, the Village Voice and other publications.

Geoffrey Fox's short story collection Welcome to My Contri, first published in 1988, was described by The New York Times Book Review as a "short and impressive work" in which "Mr. Fox [...] has created a memorable set of players who, while not natural antagonists (they often share the same dreams and goals), are still somehow bent on confrontation. Watching their sometimes vicious, often darkly humorous interactions leaves us thoroughly wrung out and aware that we are in the presence of a formidable new writer". In 2010, Welcome to My Contri was reissued as an ebook with a new introduction and two new stories.

His novel, A Gift for the Sultan (2010), about the conflicts, collaborations and conspiracies between Ottoman Turks and Byzantines in the years before the Ottoman seizure of Constantinople, has been translated into Turkish by Nokta Publishers in Istanbul.

Since 2008, Fox has been living with his partner, architect Susana Torre, on the edge of the Mediterranean in the village of Carboneras in Andalusia, Spain, where his short stories (in Spanish) under the pen name "Baltasar Lotroyo" ("el otro yo" = alter ego in Spanish) have appeared in anthologies and online publications.

In the Cafe Arts et Metiers, Paris, April 2018
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