Geoffrey Fox

Work in progress

The Bookbinder

"Le désésperé". Gustave Courbet

“Le désésperé”. Gustave Courbet

What drives youth to believe that they can and must change the world, no matter how great the sacrifice? And how does their struggle change them? The Bookbinder poses these questions in the context of the world’s first cooperative, self-governing, proto-communist society in continental Europe’s largest and most advanced capitalist cente , the Paris Commune of 1871 .


In 1870, 17-year old apprentice bookbinder Étienne Bonin travels from revolutionary Lyon to even more revolutionary Paris seeking excitement and professional opportunity, and by the spring of 1871 is deeply committed to the insurrection for workers’ power, a new lover and his new comrades, while experiencing  festive celebrations, institutional innovations, military disasters and the final “week of blood” that would annihilate the Commune but not its ideals, which would be reborn in revolutions from 1917 to our day.

Étienne Bonin’s story is also the story of the growth of a powerful working-class movement and its creation of the new society, in the face of severe internal conflicts and the merciless military power of the old regime that ultimately destroyed it.

Sample chapter

For a draft of Chapter 33, The 18th of March, please click here.

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