Artists, martyrs, kings, revolutionaries: France’s sense of national identity is inextricably linked to its dramatic history, which fascinates the world and attracts millions each year to visit its chateaux and cathedrals, boulevards and vineyards. Ancient roots allied to a social, political and military history that has witnessed revolution, conflict and occupation mean that France holds a unique position in the modern world. In this short, easy-to-digest history of a vast subject, Jeremy Black succinctly narrates how France’s past has created its distinct character.
Country and destination, nation and idea, France has an incomparable cultural legacy, and exerts a powerful artistic, intellectual and political influence across the globe. Black’s vivid take on history emphasizes the unexpected nature of events and unpredictable outcomes on a fragmented country, from the prehistoric cave paintings of Lascaux to the origins of Gothic architecture, from Monet and Degas to the Lumière brothers, and from the cataclysm of the 1789 Revolution through the countercultural student protests of 1968 to today’s gilets jaunes. Black’s concise, insightful tour of the key historical moments and vibrant personalities that shaped France provides an indispensable guide to understanding the country today.
With 24 illustrations, 23 in colour