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The Last Communard by Gavin Bowd
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The Last Communard

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The Last Communard by Gavin Bowd
Hardcover $24.95
Jun 21, 2016 | ISBN 9781784782856

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  • Jun 21, 2016 | ISBN 9781784782856

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Praise

“A life spanning the Commune, the French Communist party and honoured exile in the USSR made Lejeune an exemplar of the official story of the Commune sustained by the communist movement across the twentieth century, as the great precursor of the Soviet socialist state. Bowd’s book explodes this myth with great ruthlessness … it firmly slams shut one story of the Commune—one where it served as little more than a failed rehearsal for the USSR—and in doing so, makes others possible.”
—Owen Hatherley, Guardian

“A fascinating story.”
—Julian Wright, Time Literary Supplement

“Adrien Lejeune is among those men whose lives embrace history, allowing us to meditate on a century of insurrections and revolutions, victories and defeats. Gavin Bowd not only details Lejeune’s life, but also the constitution of his legend, and the inevitable gap between them. In this way, Bowd reminds us of the importance stories have in the fight for emancipation, stories that, despite the decline of the ‘communist hypothesis,’ still haunt us.”
—Eric Hazan, author of The Invention of Paris

“Lejeune, a herbalist, was an unenthusiastic participant in the Paris Commune of 1871; it nevertheless changed his life. After a harsh spell of imprisonment, he moved into the fringes of left-wing politics and eventually, in his seventies, into the twentieth-century Communist Party. With other elderly militants, he retired to the workers’ paradise of the Soviet Union. An accident of longevity made him finally the sole survivor of the Commune, carefully looked after even amid the horrors of the German invasion, from which he took refuge in Siberia, dying in 1942 at the ripe old age of ninety-five. Gavin Bowd tells this strange story well, casting a clear light into many previously obscure corners. He shows the lasting importance of the Paris Commune in the Marxist–Leninist historical narrative, in which Lejeune became the last tangible link between the nineteenth-century French revolutionary tradition and the Soviet Union.”
Robert Tombs, University of Cambridge, author of The War Against Paris, 1871

“This story of a man who fought in the Paris Commune in 1871 and died in Siberia in 1942, sounds as if it should be stranger than fact.”
Allan Massie, Scotsman

“Bowd’s book is … a fascinating example of historical legend-making.”
—David Hopkin, History Today

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