Customer Reviews for

La Belle France

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2006


    I did enjoy Alistair Horne's last book, 'Seven Ages of Paris,' so I was surprised that he, the author of entirely too many books, would accept a contract to write essentially the same survey again, this time with less skill, less effort, and less result. 'La Belle France' is a scrapbook of historical anecdotes about France, but Horne never tells any of them well. The master of this sort of history is Paul Johnson: his smart distillations always offer the perfect balance of hard information and compelling narrative. I finished Horne¿s section on the events of 1968 in Paris with no concrete idea of what happened or why. And ridiculous errors abound: the Eiffel Tower was built of wrought iron, not steel, and Lyndon Johnson bowed out of the election of 1968, not 1970. Besides bad storytelling, Horne adopts a smarmy, fake-intimate tone peculiar to best-sellers. Ugh!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2011

    Not recommended for those who have limited knowledge of France

    I bought this book because I realized how important France is to world history and how little did I know about this country. This was the first book I read about France and I feel Disappointed. Horne gives lots of information but it is disorgainzed, he chronically fails to link the information together even when it is in chronological order, which on serveral occaions it is not. If you buy this book expect to spend time looking things up because Horne does not explain them well. Horne glances over the early development of France, basically he devotes less than one page the the Merovingian Dynasty, A little more than a paragraph about Charles Martel and Charlemagne and the rest of the Carolingian Dyansty. His discription of the Carolingian Dynasty is a prefect example about how he fails to link information together, "Carolingian" only appears once in the entire book and when you read it you get the impression that Charlemagne was the founder of the Dyansty and not Charles Martel. One small detail that would have cleared this up than Horne doesn't mention it, and that is Charles Martel is the Grandfather of Charlemagne. Horne fails to explain how the Carolingian dynasty falls. I learned more about early French history from Steven Ozment's- A Mighty Fortress-A New history of the German People than I did from La Belle France. I don't want to totally condemn this book, one section I found interesting and funny was his analysis of the love story of Abelard and Heloise. He made them Come alive and explained how they where relevent. I wish Horne would have done it with the rest of the book. If I could I would give La Belle France 2.5 Stars.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2009

    I thought this would be a good book to learn some brief history of France before a trip.

    This book reads like a dry textbook. Characters are mentioned without any introduction as to who they are. It's hard to advance to other events or time periods because they are not written as specific events. I do not recommend this book for a travelers lesson of history.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2009

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