Tag: France

Jun 16 2017

Postwar by Tony Judt

Two things stand out for me about Postwar, by Tony Judt. First, it is a stupendous historical synthesis that aims to tell a mostly political history of all of Europe — East and West, North and South — from 1945 through its publication in 2005. Second, I should have been writing reflections about it as I …

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Nov 02 2014

The Days of the French Revolution by Christopher Hibbert

Of the half dozen or so books on the French Revolution I have read so far, this is probably the best one. Yet the Revolution continues to confuse and bewilder me. How could something that began so well turn out so badly? It began as a genuinely democratic movement, but soon degenerated into something far …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2014/11/02/the-days-of-the-french-revolution-by-christopher-hibbert/

Oct 18 2014

Twentieth Century France by James McMillan

I read this book from beginning to end, and I have almost nothing to say about it, except that French history after Napoleon is pretty boring.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2014/10/18/twentieth-century-france-by-james-mcmillan/

Sep 26 2014

The Rise and Fall of Renaissance France by R.J. Knecht

This book was BORING. But it was not entirely without merit. It educated me considerably on the degree to which religious strife has played a role in the history of France. One tends to think of France as a thoroughly Catholic country, but there was once a flourishing Protestant movement. It is tantalizing to speculate …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2014/09/26/the-rise-and-fall-of-renaissance-france-by-r-j-knecht/

Apr 21 2013

A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman

Fourteenth century France seems to encapsulate medieval Europe in all its grandeur and folly. The Middle Ages seem to have been a time when everybody believed in Christianity and nobody practiced it. Likewise, they seem to have been a time when men were most warlike yet waged war with the greatest incompetence. After reading this …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2013/04/21/a-distant-mirror-by-barbara-tuchman/

Feb 20 2012

Napoleon by Frank McLynn

This is the best and most balanced biography of Napoleon I have read so far. It contains much excellent scholarship and critical commentary; however, it also contains a lot of amateur Freudian analysis that is pure rubbish. While I am neither a warmonger nor an imperialist, I find it hard to read a biography of …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2012/02/20/napoleon-by-frank-mclynn/

May 02 2010

Madame de Stael by Francine du Plessix Gray

The subject of this book is an extraordinary individual, yet I find myself disliking her. Mme de Stael was brilliantly eloquent, audaciously spirited, and a gifted writer, yet there is an overwhelmingly histrionic side to her personality that makes it impossible for me to take her seriously. There is much in her that seems to …

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Jan 27 2010

The Discovery of France by Graham Robb

Mostly in lieu of a proper review, excerpts from The Discovery of France by Graham Robb, the best non-fiction book I read in 2009. (Tough competition, too: In Europe: Travels Through the Twentieth Century by Geert Mak, Gold and Iron by Fritz Stern and To the Castle and Back by Vaclav Havel were all top …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2010/01/27/the-discovery-of-france-by-graham-robb/

Apr 09 2008

Napoleon Bonaparte by Alan Schom

This is a well written and well researched book, but it is the most anti-Napoleon book I have ever read. The author gives the devil his due, acknowledging Napoleon’s outstanding abilities as a battlefield commander, but other than that, he has nothing nice to say about the great man. And he takes the peculiar position …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2008/04/09/napoleon-bonaparte-by-alan-schom/

Feb 06 2006

Premature Evaluation: On the Brink: The Trouble with France

What to do when you haven’t finished a book but find yourself with something to say about it? Convention dictates that one should finish a book before reviewing it (although I have my doubts about any number of published reviews), but on the other hand, the market for reviews of revised editions of books on …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2006/02/06/premature-evaluation-on-the-brink-the-trouble-with-france/