This is a history of the French which tries to explain their idiosyncrasies, enthusiasms and prejudices. It goes beyond the recital of events to investigate their attitudes and behaviour over an unusually wide range of activities. Volume I scrutinizes the peculiar way of thinking and of talking adopted by the French, their powerful sense of national identity, their ambivalent feelings about foreigners. It shows what it meant to be a Breton or a Provencal, an Alsation or an Auvergnat. Volume II analyses French taste and the role of the artist. It enquires into the quality of life, the French view of happiness, friendship and comfort, humour, reactions to scientific progress, compromises with corruption and superstition. This major reinterpretation of France's achievement as a nation and of the individual experience of the French has taken its place as one of the great works of scholarship on modern France, and now re-appears in two paperback volumes.
Readership: Scholars and students of modern French history.
Theodore Zeldin, Fellow, St Antony's College, Oxford
"A highly readable dissection of French life and thought from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century, driven by inexhaustible curiosity about human nature and spiced with extraordinary details of the quirks of French people's lives and attitudes." - Richard Jones, Professor of Modern History, Cambridge University, Best Books: The Week
"One of the major historical works of our collective lifetime ... brilliantly stimulating." - Listener
"The most enjoyable book of its kind in nearly forty years." - New Statesman
"Brilliant, original, entertaining and inexhaustible." - The Times
"The world's foremost authority on Frenchness." - Time