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Maine Libraries Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Alison Johnson <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 16 Aug 2013 08:28:05 -0400
Alison Johnson <[log in to unmask]>
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Hello from Alison Johnson, a Maine author who has lived in the Brunswick area for 49 years.
McFarland and Company, Inc., Publishers, has just published my biography titled Louis XVI and the French Revolution. Louis XVI may have been short on charisma compared to Marie Antoinette, but he was long on integrity and devotion to the French people. He was a man of exceptional courage and great loyalty to his Catholic faith who faced death on more than one occasion before he was guillotined because he refused to deport the priests who would not sign an oath of allegiance to the revolutionary government. (They were to be deported to an island where they were likely to die of yellow fever.)

With revolutions engulfing the Middle East, this book is particularly relevant because the French Revolution provides us with a historical record of how difficult it is to control a revolution, no matter how many lofty ideals inspire it. In my Preface, I quote Gouverneur Morris, who said in his famous Diary of the French Revolution:

It is not possible to say either to the people or to the sea, so far shalt thou go and no farther, and we shall have I think some sharp struggles which will make many men repent of what they have done when they find with Macbeth that they have but taught bloody instructions which return to plague the inventor.

While I was seeking a publisher several years ago, I received these comments:


Your historical biography of Louis XVI is very nicely done, I think. It reads well and seems to be based on solid documentation. I have concluded, however, that it really is more suitable for a trade publisher. 
                                               Charles Grench
                                               Senior Editor
                                               Yale University Press.
I found the description of your biography of Louis XVI and the enclosed sample chapters to be very interesting indeed and to make fascinating reading, and I am therefore very sorry to say that .   .  .  .  we rarely publish biographies, and I believe you would be better served by a trade house or a press that reaches a broader audience .  .  .  .
                                              Joanna Hitchcock
                                              Executive Editor, Humanities
                                              Princeton University Press

My agent received this letter from E. P. Dutton, a trade publisher who ultimately declined to publish the biography because they weren't sure Americans were that interested in French history:

Ms. Johnson is certainly a fine writer, and her treatment of Louis XVI and his reign is balanced, and mercifully interesting and readable. 


Given the large Franco-Canadian population in Maine and the recent Portland Stage production of a play about Marie Antoinette and her relationship to Louis XVI, this book is particularly worth considering for your collection.