I was 11 years old when I read the New York Daily News account of William Alexander Morgan’s execution. Morgan was an American adventurer who had gone to Cuba in 1958 to join the fight against Fulgencio Batista. A brave and resourceful soldier, he became a comandante in Castro’s army—the only foreigner to attain that rank apart from Che Guevara. Yet, just three years after he arrived, Castro denounced him as a traitor and ordered him shot.
July 14 is Bastille Day, the day on which the people of France celebrate the storming of the Bastille and the revolution that gave the world “liberty, equality and fraternity.” That, at least, is the version we get in the history books. But the French Revolution was a good deal more complex than that. And so I am going to devote today’s post to an episode from the Revolution that most history books either gloss over or omit altogether. It’s something called the War of the Vendée. Continue reading Liberty, Equality and Barbarity