Cover image for Blood of revolution : from the Reign of Terror to the rise of Khomeini
Blood of revolution : from the Reign of Terror to the rise of Khomeini
Durschmied, Erik.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Arcade Pub., 2002.

Physical Description:
392 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
General Note:
"First published as Whisper of the blade in Great Britain in 2001 by Hodder & Stoughton."
10 August 1792 -- Interlude : 1794-1809 -- 13 August 1809 -- Interlude : 1815-1910 -- 18 November 1910 -- Interlude : 1914-1917 -- 7 November 1917 -- Interlude : 1917-1918 -- 9 January 1919 -- Interlude : 1920-1944 -- 20 July 1944 -- Interlude : April-August 1945 -- 15 August 1945 -- Interlude : 1945-1959 -- 8 October 1967 -- Interlude : 1969-1979 -- 16 January 1979.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
JC491 .D87 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Starting on the eve of the French Revolution in the late 1780s, Durschmied not only describes the dramatic events but enriches each of these historic upheavals by quoting the protagonists on both sides. Letting facts and quotations speak for themselves, he sets forth and analyzes the French, Mexican, and Russian revolutions, the failed putsch against Hitler in 1944, the Cuban Revolution, and finally the Iranian Revolution that ousted the Shah in 1979. Each revolution has its own dynamic and fascinating cast of characters, but all too often, as this wonderfully researched work shows, the end result is the same: mayhem, betrayal, and death.

Author Notes

Erik Durschmied was born in Vienna in 1930 and emigrated to Canada after World War II. He is a military historian and award-winning journalist who has been a war correspondent for Newsweek as well as the BBC and CBS. He has personally covered wars and revolutions in Afghanistan, Belfast, Beirut, Chile, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, and Vietnam, and has won numerous awards for his work. He divides his "at-home" time between Paris and Provence

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Name a revolution, beginning with the great one in France, and there will be no shortage of perspectives on its causes, course, and conclusion. About all historians could indubitably agree on is that the event contains riveting and tragic human drama, and this is the perspective Durschmied brings to his work. He stitches into the stories of particular revolutions the principal figures advocating eradication of the ancien regime, from Robespierre to Khomeini, but is rather cursory in describing the utopias that they and others, such as Lenin and Trotsky, imagined they could create with a little salutary bloodletting. Knowing how to rouse interest through vibrant storytelling, Durschmied hooks the larger revolutionary story onto vignettes and personalities. This journalistic approach will click for readers interested in background information on famous revolutionaries from Zapata to Castro. --Gilbert Taylor

Publisher's Weekly Review

The former Newsweek correspondent who has toyed about with variations on the theme of "What if?" in his speculative histories The Hinge Factor and The Weather Factor settles down here to look at the actual record of the great political revolutions of the last two centuries. It is not a happy story, nor a heroic one. "Genius, courage and creativity are powerful forces," Durschmied concedes; "but so is evil." And, indeed, every one of the great cataclysms described here seems, at some (fairly early) point in its development, to have been transformed into a mad witch's Sabbath of fanatics, opportunists, sadists, conmen and outright lunatics whose single-minded lust for power would have taken Machiavelli's breath away. Durschmied illustrates it all with vivid, journalistic detail: a Parisian hairdresser arranging the coiffure of the Princesse de Lamballe's severed head; the drunken turkey-shoot in which the Bolsheviks assassinated the tsar's family; Pancho Villa's sport of lining up hostages atop railway cars and gunning them down like bowling pins; the snuff films made of the hangings of resistance leaders for Hitler's personal amusement. The author's intent is not primarily analytical, but he makes it clear that political collapses as complete as those detailed here are never the result of simple conquest, militarily or ideologically, and that no ruler is ever overthrown unless he or she is profoundly inept, weak-willed or stupid (e.g., Louis XVI, Nicholas II, the shah of Iran). Durschmied writes wonderfully fluid and engaging accounts. The final chapter, on the Khomeinite revolution in Iran, is particularly timely now. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. First printing 15,000. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A journalist and military historian based in France, Durschmied here presents an engaging account of selected revolutions in modern history. "Revolution is born of hope and its philosophy is formally optimistic," he writes, but it is the strategic maneuvering and the aftermath of the revolution, when things fall apart, that fascinates this author. Beginning with a lengthy review of the French Revolution, he succinctly covers a succession of revolutionary movements, including the Mexican Revolution of 1910, the Russian Revolution, the death of Che Guevara, Ayatollah Khomeini's revolution in Iran, and others. He draws upon interviews, field reporting, and research in French, German, and Russian archives for his material. The light and lively narrative serves as a useful introduction for the general reader. A selective bibliography identifies the major titles for each revolution covered. First published in Britain as Whisper of the Blade, this book is best suited for public libraries and is recommended chiefly as a companion to Durschmied's previous works, such as The Hinge Factor: How Chance and Stupidity Have Changed History (LJ 3/1/00). Thomas A. Karel, Franklin & Marshall Coll. Lib., Lancaster, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Meant for the general reader, this book provides, without much analysis, a colorful and competent account of selected modern revolutions over a period of two hundred years, from France to Iran. Durschmied, a military historian and war correspondent, offers only one 19th-century case study, and it is unexpected: Andreas Hofer leading traditionalist Catholic peasants in the Tyrol against Napoleon's empire. Durschmied includes many other failed revolutions: the 1919 revolution in Germany, the putsch against Hitler in 1944, the rightist coup in Japan in 1945. Of course, he also includes the Bolshevik revolution and, almost as unsurprisingly, the 1910 Mexican revolution. Having interviewed Castro early in his revolution, Durschmied provides some fresh anecdotes on Cuba. Many historians might question the description of some of these case studies as revolutions and regret the omission of changes in regime and society that better deserve that name, most obviously, the Chinese communist revolution. General collections. D. M. Fahey Miami University

Table of Contents

Prefacep. 1
Prologue: The king must die ...p. 5
1 10 August 1792p. 11
Interlude: 1794-1809p. 72
2 13 August 1809p. 75
Interlude: 1815-1910p. 89
3 18 November 1910p. 91
Interlude: 1914-1917p. 125
4 7 November 1917p. 128
Interlude: 1917-1918p. 189
5 9 January 1919p. 191
Interlude: 1920-1944p. 228
6 20 July 1944p. 230
Interlude: April-August 1945p. 246
7 15 August 1945p. 248
Interlude: 1945-1959p. 280
8 8 October 1967p. 283
Interlude: 1968-1979p. 308
9 16 January 1979p. 310
Epiloguep. 368
Bibliographyp. 374
Indexp. 378