In seeking to know Robespierre, we are forced to note the world he laid waste around him.
For the French, Robespierre is a problematic figure. In Arras, where he was born on 6 May 1758 and where he practised law until 1789, the year the Revolution began, there are no public memorials to him and few souvenirs. To his enemies (and posterity) he was the inventor of the Terror; to his friends he was a man of inflexible principle, devoted to the people and the Republic. There is no common ground. The author has produced a dispassionate yet sympathetic study that goes some way to penetrating the mystery surrounding this strange individual.