Monday, August 15, 2016

How History is Written

Book Review: The Last Communard by Gavin Bowd

Although I am a fan of history, I must admit that I was not that familiar with the history of the Commune, and had no idea who Adrien Lejeune was.That was part of the reason I ordered this book.
What I got was less of an education in the Commune and the last Communard than a lesson in how history is written. Lejeune, who was at best a bit player in the Commune, was made into a symbol of the Communist Party through the succeeding years. Through the machinations and propaganda of various arms of the Party, he became larger than life. While he whiled away the hours in various institutions in the Soviet Union, intent on maintaining his supply of wine and chocolate, Party factions played upon his notoriety, intent on their own agendas as well. Sometimes the litany of unfamiliar and foreign names and locations become tedious and dry; this reader often felt like he was climbing an enormous shifting sand dune of facts, with no goal in sight. Author Gavin Bowd does manage to pull things together in the end, and brings sense to what is an interesting overview of a small piece of history and how it fits into the context of the larger picture.