To paraphrase the note from the translator, The Celebrated Crimes of Alexandre Dumas père was not written for children. The novelist has spared no language - has minced no words - to describe violent scenes of violent times. In this, the third of the series, Dumas tells the story of three centuries of sectarian violence and civil war between the Protestants and the Catholics of the south of France. His approach is both personal and partisan; he clearly has great admiration for some of the figures he presents, while others equally clearly disgust him. His story becomes all the more personal when he presents his own experience of witnessing the brutal murder a Protestant at the hands of Catholics; however, the novelist seems to run ahead of the historian or the biographer here, as the events he describes occurred in 1815, when he was only 13 years old - too young to be married, as he is in the story he tells. Dumas is never guilty of allowing the truth to get in the way of a good story. However, as the translator notes, "The careful, mature reader, for whom the books are intended, will recognize, and allow for, this fact." We're talking about Dumas here, not Tuchman or Toynbee. Dumas gives us a broad history of brutality, cowardice, bravery, and above all death - on the battlefield in war, on the streets in brutal murder, on the scaffold by torture. It is a tale of events and personalities that shook Europe and exerted a powerful effect on the politics of France down to the present day. Enjoy!
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