Academic historians probably read historical novels in two ways: as general readers and as experts on a period. At a guess, Anatole France’s Les dieux ont soif (1912) is not likely to satisfy under either heading. The academic historian can probably get over the historical goofs: active citizens in 1793, Federalists as decentralizers, the Revolutionary Tribunal of Paris not having a jury, and so on. It is much harder to get over the novelist’s failure to master his theme until very late in the book. Dickens, of course, did this superbly well, much to professors’ irritation. Beyond the lachrymose plot, Dickens had a point to make about the unleashed mob, vindictiveness, and bloodlust. He did it by creating a caricature of the Revolution, stripping it of its great complexities to produce a simplified, almost comic version. And there is no denying the effectiveness of this depiction because most people in the Anglo-Saxon world still share it.