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A thought-provoking, authoritative biography of one of history's most maligned rulers Louis XVI of France, who was guillotined in 1793 during the Revolution and Reign of Terror, is commonly portrayed in fiction and film either as a weak and stupid despot in thrall to his beautiful, shallow wife, Marie Antoinette, or as a cruel and treasonous tyrant. Historian John Hardman disputes both these versions in a fascinating new biography of the ill-fated monarch. Based in part on new scholarship that has emerged over the past two decades, Hardman's illuminating study describes a highly educated ruler who, though indecisive, possessed sharp political insight and a talent for foreign policy; who often saw the dangers ahead but could not or would not prevent them; and whose great misfortune was to be caught in the violent center of a major turning point in history. Hardman's dramatic reassessment of the reign of Louis XVI sheds a bold new light on the man, his actions, his world, and his policies, including the king's support for America's War of Independence, the intricate workings of his court, the disastrous Diamond Necklace Affair, and Louis's famous dash to Varennes.
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About the Author

John Hardman is one of the world's leading experts on the French Revolution and the author of several well-regarded books on the subject. He was formerly lecturer in modern history at the University of Edinburgh.

Reviews

"An up-to-date, immensely erudite and compelling study, the fruit of a lifetime's work on the king. It is also crisply, sometimes brilliantly,written. Hardman's style is accessible, often witty, and he has a gift for putting complex issues in a nutshell. Louis XVI remains one of the crucial characters in modern history... and this is now the best biography of him in any language."-Munro Price, Literary Review -- Munro Price Literary Review 'Hardman has devoted much of his life to Louis XVI; some of the excellent illustrations are of objects in his own collection. He uses many new sources, such as papers of the Navy minister the Marechal de Castries, and the magnificent diary of the ambassador the Marquis de Bombelles, spanning the entire period 1780-1822.' - Philip Mansel, Spectator -- Philip Mansel Spectator "The author's triumph ... is his admirable balance in presenting the king's successful traits and actions along with his unsatisfactory steps and misjudgments... An important contribution to the writing and study of French history."-Brad Hooper, Booklist -- Brad Hooper Booklist "Sympathetic ... deeply moving ... dramatic ... This is biography at its finest, by one of the greatest authorities on the subject."-Chronicles Chronicles

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