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John merriman's monograph, the dynamite club. how a bombing in fin-de-sicle paris ignited the age of modern terror

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The Dynamite Club: A Book Analysis Aminata Bash-Taqi Marymount Word count: 970 November 13, THE In his book, “ The Dynamite Club: How a Bombing in the Fin-De-Siecle Paris Ignited the Age of the Modern Terror,” John M. Merriman displays his rich knowledge in history and writing prowess. As a history professor at Yale University since the 1970s, Merriman has made his mark and contribution to the modern historical field through his writings, like History of the Modern Europe (1996), Agony of the Republic: The Repression of the Left in Revolutionary France (1978), among other books. John Merriman obtained both his PhD and B. A. from the University of Michigan. Merriman is also recognized as a social and political activist and is known for his political views of the Vietnamese wars. Basing his major writings about France, Merriman combines modern history with past European history, particularly French history and the French revolutions in the late 1870s and 1890s. THE SUMMARY: The Dynamite Club: How a Bombing in the Fin-De-Siecle Paris Ignited the Age of the Modern Terror is about the thrilling accounts of Henry Emilie with his cohorts, and the war that anarchism caused against the bourgeoisie, and finally assassinating president McKinley in 19011. The book covers the rise of French anarchism in the periods between 1871 and 1894, also known as the Paris Commune and the Execution era. Initially described as a sympathetic, young and well- behaved scholar, Henry Emilie becomes motivated through the senses of social injustices, unemployment, hunger, bureaucracies, among others, to become the center core of the terror attacks at the terminal cafe and police station2. In the book, Merriman illustrates in a skillful manner how the social alienation in that society, and therefore today’s society, triggered the rise and expansion of extremist ideas and acts3. THE SOURCES: The author uses mostly secondary sources like scholarly works. Merriman also uses works of fiction, historical records of French anarchism, French anarchism articles, and French newspapers to some limited extents (Merriman, 1996). The French historical archives are also some of the sources from which the author constructed his writing. Mostly basing his arguments and stories from his rich knowledge about the 19th century France4, Merriman manages to draw a comparative analysis of the ancient and the modern world through writing. The sources of Merriman’s work in this book are well- researched historical information on terrorism and political dynamism. The book is complemented by other historic sources on terrorism, archives, and well-researched books as well as matched and wonderfully lucid writing styles that bring forth the historical figures to reality. Through these sources, and the early anarchical French history, Merriman’s book is a search portrait of the violence and tensions that rocked the popular fin-de-siecle in France and in doing so, foresaw the terrorist acts of today. THESIS: In the Dynamite Club, Merriman argues that the social and economic inequalities coupled with rapid technological changes that occurred in the 19th century, particularly in Europe, which led to many taking the law into their own hands, were mere reflections of 21st century events. The anarchists actions of the ancient revolutionary French period pointed the modern socio-economic and political differences that have created global competitions and lawlessness. THE EVIDENCE – PRESENTATION: In the first chapter of the book, “ Light and Shadows in the Capital of Europe,” Merriman (p 7-9) argues that Emperor Napoleon III had, very early in the second empire of France between 1952-70, intended to maintain the monarch system authority against the liberal nationalists and the socialist movements. The period was then coupled with rebellious syndrome, a situation that made Paris the centre of revolution5. The second chapter of the book, “ The Exile’s Second Son” (p 25-49) has a comprehensive story of Henry Emilie’s fair background as an intellectually intelligent young man who goes through tides of life to finally become ‘ a terrorist’ because of social injustices of the system. After the anarchical scenes in chapter four, five, and six, the anarchists like Henry are tried in chapter seven of the book (p 163-203). The outcome of the trial led to a reaction that would create landmarked revolutionary adherences and violence. Series of anarchical activities are thereafter witnessed and the French revolutionary and anarchical activities during the era become historic. THE EVIDENCE – EVALUATION: The conclusive argument of the author dwells majorly on the fact that the ancient anarchical particularly in 1870s French system paved way for the modern terror tactics6. The author paints Henry Emilie’s anarchist acts as the consequences of the bureaucratically brutal activities towards the normal citizen by the authorities. Page 9 of the book clearly introduce the sentiments of the author based on the main character, the leadership of the country, introductions of the revolutionary act5s, and extend to the build-up of anarchism. The book steadily advances to supporting arguments leading to the growth of the anarchists activities, whereby people like Henry openly explode a hotel and further aggressively get involved in other inhuman acts of terrorism. The social injustices and the authoritative dictatorial rule that hurts the livelihood of common people are their justifications for the acts. In addition, the author come out clearly that personal willingness and the determination to prove their course are much evidenced among the main characters like Emilie. These chapters support the author’s arguments that the social, economic and political injustices in the then French society have paved ways for unnecessary evils of anarchical nature, such as terrorism, to the present day societies. Therefore, the Dynamite Club is a well -researched account that highlights the periods of a dramatic social and political change in the world, a writing that deviously and metaphorically directs modern societies to reflect upon their own. References Merriman, John M. 2009. The Dynamite Club: How a Bombing in Fin-de-Siecle Paris Ignited the Age of Modern Terror. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Fyffe, Charles Alan. A history of modern Europe,. New York: H. Holt and Co., 189091. Merriman, John M. 1978. The agony of the Republic: the repression of the left in revolutionary France, 1848-1851. New Haven: Yale University Press.

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