The Betrayal of the Duchess: The Scandal That Unmade the Bourbon Monarchy and Made France Modern

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Product Details

Basic Books
Publish Date
6.1 X 9.3 X 1.7 inches | 1.35 pounds

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About the Author

Maurice Samuels is the Betty Jane Anlyan professor of French at Yale University, chair of the program in Judaic studies, and founder and director of the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism. He is the author of three books, including The Spectacular Past, which won the Gaddis Smith International Book Prize, and Inventing the Israelite, which received the MLA's Scaglione Prize. Prior to teaching at Yale, he was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania after completing his PhD at Harvard. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2015. He lives in New York and New Haven, Connecticut.


"A colorful history of the duchesse de Berry's failed attempt to restore the Bourbon dynasty to the French throne... Samuels delivers a spirited and comprehensive account of this lesser-known drama and draws insightful parallels to anti-Semitism within modern-day reactionary movements. Armchair historians will be delighted."--Publishers Weekly
"Maurice Samuels's account of the improbable and riveting story of the duchess de Berry is both deeply researched and elegantly written. But this triumphant work provides much more than a narrative of civil war and treachery; it also interweaves dazzling insight into deeply relevant issues including the genesis of French (and European) antisemitism."--Andrew S. Curran, author of Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely
"The duchesse de Berry raises an army to restore the Bourbon monarchy. Her advisor, a charming Jewish convert named Simon Deutz, sells her out to the government, and her plot fails. A flood of literature follows -- from Hugo, Chateaubriand, Dumas. And then, mysteriously, the Deutz affair disappears from modern memory. It took someone with Maurice Samuels's psychological and political insights, his astonishing research, and his gift for story telling, to bring to life the true origin story of modern anti-Semitism, sixty years before the Dreyfus affair. A thriller, a non-fiction novel of palace intrigue, full of outrageous characters and theatrical scenes, Samuels's The Betrayal of the Duchess speaks of passions and prejudices uncannily suited to our own times."--Alice Kaplan, author of Looking for The Stranger and Dreaming in French and the John M. Musser Professor of French, Yale University
"This timely history -- impeccably researched and engagingly told -- relates the failed royalist coup of the Bourbon princess Caroline, duchesse de Berry. Highlighting the involvement of her Jewish-turned-Catholic co-conspirator, Simon Deutz, Maurice Samuels shows how this episode crystallized an ideology of antisemitism that has pervaded French society, with disastrous results, ever since."--Caroline Weber, author of Proust's Duchess and Queen of Fashion
"With a knack for narration and deep knowledge of the times, Maurice Samuels excavates a scandal of lost causes and the new hatreds that grow in their place. It is at once a gripping account of individuals, a portrait of an age, and a history that speaks to us, hauntingly, in our own troubled present."--Darrin M. McMahon, author Divine Fury and Mary Brinsmead Wheelock Professor of History, Dartmouth College
"Treachery, disguise, capture, and imprisonment-the scandal surrounding an ill-fated 19th-century French insurrection-is all the more captivating in this factual retelling... Recommended for readers of Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, and 19th-century French history and literature."--Library Journal
"The Duchess of Berry's story is enthralling, and Mr. Samuels tells it well. His epigraph is taken from the Memoirs of the Comtesse de Boigne 'A new Walter Scott will have a difficult time finding a more poetic subject than the expedition of Madame la duchesse de Berry.' Absolutely."--Wall Street Journal