A History of Modern France / Edition 4

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Overview

An overview of the history of France from the mid-18th century to the present.

Organized chronologically, A History of Modern France presents a survey of the dramatic events that have punctuated French history, including the French Revolution, the upheavals of the 19th century, the world wars of the 20th century, and France’s current role in the European Union.

Written for today’s undergraduate students, the text presents scholarly controversies in an unbiased manner and reflects the best of contemporary scholarship in French history.

Learning Goals

Upon completing this book readers will be able to:

  • Describe important events in modern French history
  • Understand the political, cultural, social, and economic forces that have shaped contemporary France
  • Appreciate the continued importance of French history for students in the 21st century

Note: MySearchLab does not come automatically packaged with this text. To purchase MySearchLab, please visit: www.mysearchlab.com.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Popkin's book is probably the best text available today to use in an upper division course on modern French history. It is clear, concise, and well-written. It incorporates current research and will give students a general understanding of what French historians today think of most issues.”

-Steven Kale, Washington State University

“A solid survey text for an upper-division course in Modern French history. Straightforward narrative and analysis; a good compliment to classroom lecture. I would recommend its use.”

-Casey Harison, University of Southern Indiana

“I describe it as the most-comprehensive and intelligent overview of modern French history. Popkin covers almost all areas of French society in an intelligent, interesting narrative. At the same time, he skillfully incorporates important facts and necessary data so the student can develop his/her own critical viewpoint and apply it to the texts we read.”

-Carol Lazzaro-Weis, University of Missouri-Columbia

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780205846825
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 10/11/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 750,048
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Read an Excerpt

PREFACE:

Preface

Shortly after the start of the new millennium, France is scheduled to give up one of the main features of an independent country. Starting in 2002, a new currency, the euro, will replace the franc, a symbol of France's identity for more than 200 years. Already, French citizens travel with European passports identical to those held by their neighbors from the fourteen other countries of the European Union. Decisions affecting the French economy, environmental policy, and many other vital matters are increasingly taken in the Belgian city of Brussels, home of the Union's governing commission, rather than in Paris. At the same time, as it becomes ever more part of a larger European community, France is also changing its cultural identity. The descendants of immigrants have turned Islam into the traditionally Catholic country's second-largest religion. EuroDisney, an American company's theme park outside of Paris, has replaced Gothic cathedrals and famous museums as France's most popular tourist attraction. Whatever happens in France in the years to come, the country is likely to move steadily farther away from the compact national state whose history is described in this book.

Why, then, should Americans still care about the history of a medium-sized European country with a population less than a quarter of that of the United States? Fifty years ago, the reason seemed obvious. On two occasions in the first half of the twentieth century, the destinies of the two countries were linked, as American troops fought and died to liberate French soil. A knowledge of French history was essential to understanding the origins of those crises. Inaddition, to many Americans, French culture, more than that of any other European country, represented the epitome of taste and sophistication. French artists, French philosophers, French novelists, and French filmmakers represented a tradition that often seemed more profound, more original, and more liberated from confining conventions than our own.

At the start of the twenty-first century, these connections between American and French history are rapidly fading. Yet those Americans who have had the opportunity to live and travel in France realize that an understanding of that country's history still provides important new perspectives for comprehending the world in which we live and the way in which it evolved. Americans may see France as part of a larger European ensemble; Britons, Germans, and the French themselves recognize it as a country that still has a unique identity and often seems determined to go its own way. An understanding of French history helps us realize that the spread of a shared modern technology has by no means made the whole world the same. Thus the study of French history helps Americans better understand our own society's place in the world.

French history retains its fascination as well because of its extraordinary complexity. France was the first European nation to proclaim the principles of modern democracy, yet it had extraordinary difficulty in agreeing on stable political institutions based on these principles. France is now a wealthy industrial country, but it reached this status by a route very different from that of the world's other leading economic powers. A country that fought repeated wars against all its neighbors is now a pillar of European cooperation; a country that once dominated a vast non-European empire now tries to maintain a distinctive world role in other ways—particularly by promoting the use of the French language. France's modern history has been rich in strong personalities who have fascinated those far beyond its borders: Napoléon, Honoré de Balzac, Charles de Gaulle, Simone de Beauvoir. For anyone interested in how human beings face up to dramatic challenges, French history will remain an absorbing story.

Finally, French history deserves our attention because no other country has contributed as much to modern historians' sense of the possibilities of historical study itself. For three generations, French historians have been recognized throughout the world as leaders in the project of broadening and enriching our approach to the past. The names Marc Bloch, Lucien Febvre, Fernand Braudel, among many others, are familiar to anyone who has participated in the effort to include the common people in the story of how our modern world came to be. French historians have been in the forefront in broadening cooperation between history and other disciplines: economics, geography, sociology, anthropology, linguistics, and literary theory. Nowhere better than in the study of France's own history can we see how multifaceted our understanding of the past can be.

The pages that follow are one American historian's effort to communicate the passion and the stimulation that he has experienced over the years in studying the past two and a half centuries of France's national life. They do not pretend to give a definitive account of modern French history: the subject is too vast and the controversies concerning it too deep to permit such a thing. They do attempt to provide a basic framework for the understanding of modern French history and—on issues where historians disagree—to outline fairly the competing interpretations that that history has inspired. This book reflects the diverse contributions of hundreds of historians who have devoted themselves to the subject, both in France and in the many other countries where French history has inspired devoted scholars. Without this community of colleagues, a synthesis like this could never have been attempted. If this book helps teachers to transmit the pleasure that the author has found in striving to understand the experience of the French people over the centuries, and if it encourages students to explore the subject, it will have served its purpose.

In preparing this new edition, I have tried to take into account some of the major developments in historical research since 1993. Throughout the book, I have attempted to incorporate new insights from women's and cultural history, which are currently two of the liveliest fields of research. I have also tried to take into account new research on issues ranging from the politics of the National Assembly in 1789 to the influence of the Soviet Union on the French Communist Party. The five chapters devoted to France between 1871 and 1914 in the previous edition have been reorganized into four chapters in this edition, and the concluding chapters have been extended to cover the end of the Mitterrand presidency, the election victories of Jacques Chirac in 1995 and Lionel Jospin in 1997, and even the French World Cup soccer championship of 1998.

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank the following Prentice Hall reviewers for their care in reading the manuscript and offering suggestions: Leslie Derfler, Florida Atlantic University; Michael S. Smith, University of South Carolina; William B. Cohen, Indiana University; Herrick Chapman, New York University; Michael Hanagan, New School for Social Research; and Patricia O'Brien, University of California, Irvine. My colleague Ellen Furlough offered valuable advice on the changes in the new edition. Matthew Schoenbachler and Holly Grout compiled the index.

Jeremy D. Popkin

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Documents

Voltaire, on Social Conditions in Eighteenth Century France

Louis XIV Writes to His Son (1661)

King Louis XIV, "The Code Noir" (French), 1685

Map

France Under Louis XIV

Audio

Louis XIV

Chapter 2

Documents

French Peasants, Cahiers de doléances

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile

Jacques-Louis Ménétra, Journal of My Life

Petition of Women of the Third Estate

Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès, What is the Third Estate?

Chapter 3

Documents

The Marquis de Mirabeau, The Friend of Men, or Treatise on Population, 1756

Black Death (1349) Henry Knighton

Maps

Map Discovery: Grain Supply and Trade in Sixteenth Century Europe

Map Discovery: Cereal Crops in Europe

Image

Slave Revolt in Saint Domingue, 1791

Chapter 4

Documents

Voltaire, Letters On England

Voltaire, “On Universal Toleration”

Baron de Montesquieu, Excerpt from The Spirit of the Laws

Voltaire on the Relation of Church and State (Mid-18th Century) Voltaire

Denis Diderot, Preliminary Discourse from the Encyclopedia (France), 1751

Image

Necker Concealing the Deficit – Cartoon, 1789

Chapter 5

Documents

Jean Baptiste Colbert, “Mercantilism: Dissertation on Alliances”

Louis XVI, “A Royal Reform Proposal”

The Execution of Damiens

Richelieu on the Ancien Regime (1904) Richelieu

Maps

Map Discovery: The Seven Years War

Interactive Map: The Seven Years’ War

Atlas Map: French America, 1608-1763

Chapter 6

Documents

Robespierre “Speech to National Convention: The Terror Justified” (France), 1794

Thomas Jefferson, Rough Draft of the Declaration of Independence (1776)

Maps

Map Discovery: Revolutionary France

Map Workbook Activity: Abolutism: France, England, and Russia 1600-1700

Image

“Cult of the Supreme Being,” French Revolution

Chapter 7

Documents

De Stael on the Ancien Regime (1789) De Stael

Jean Domat, On Social Order and Absolutist Monarchy

The Bill of Rights (1789)

Map

Revolutionary France

Chapter 8

Documents

The National Convention, “Law on Suspects (1793)” and “Law of 22 Prairial Year II (1794)”

Olympe de Gouges, Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen

Map

Map Discovery: The Expansion of Prussia

Images

Death of Marat

French Revolution

Execution by guillotine, France 1929

Chapter 9

Documents

Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne, Memoirs of Napolean Bonaporte

Charles Parquin, “Napolean’s Army”

Madame de Rémusat on the Rise of Napoleon

Map

Russia’s Holdings by 1800

Image

Prussian Soldiers

Chapter 10

Document

Thomas Jefferson, Letter on the Louisiana Purchase

Maps

Map Discovery: Napoleon’s Empire

Napoleonic Europe

Atlas Map: Louisiana Purchase and Exploration of the Trans-Mississippi West

Interactive Map: The Louisiana Purchase and Early Exploration of the West

Chapter 11

Document

Napoleon’s Exile to St. Helena (1815)

Maps

Geographic Tour: Europe in 1815

Religious Diversity in Western Europe

European Centers of Rebellion and Revolution, 1820-1848

Map Discovery: Population Growth in Europe, 1800-1850

Chapter 12

Documents

Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen 1789

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Maps

Map Workbook Activity: Economic Transformation in Europe 1750-1850

European Industrialization

The European Linen Industry

Chapter 13

Document

Richard Guest, The Creation of the Steam Loom

Maps

Map Discovery: Industrial Revolution on the Continent

Map Discovery: Unrest of the 1820s and 1830s: Centers of Revolutionary Action

Industrial Development in Key Regional Centers, ca. 1900

Industrialization in Europe, ca. 1850

Chapter 14

Documents

Metternich on the Revolutions of 1848

Capitalism Challenged: The Communist Manifesto (1848) Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

Maps

Interactive Map: World Colonial Empires 1900

European Colonial Territories Before and After 1800

Centers of Revolution, 1848

Image

Louis Napoleon v. General Cavaignac – British Cartoon, 1848

Chapter 15

Documents

Michel Chevalier, Society, Manners, and Politics in the United States

Karl Marx on the Question of Free Trade (1848) Karl Marx

An Ottoman Government Decree Defines the Official Notion of the “Modern” Citizen, June 19, 1870

Maps

Map Discovery: The Crimean War

Video

The Ottoman Tanzimat Period (1839-1876): The Middle East Confronts Modernity

The Decline of the Ottoman Empire

Chapter 16

Documents

August Comte, “Course of Positive Philosophy”

A Letter from Otto von Bismarck (1866) Otto von Bismarck

John Stuart Mill on Enfranchisement of Women (1869) John Stuart Mill

Map

Atlas Map: The Civil War, 1861-1862

Image

Cotton plantation, United States of America

Chapter 17

Maps

Map Discovery: The Expansion of Prussia

Unification of Germany

The Unification of Germany, 1815-1871

The Unification of Germany, 1866-1871

Chapter 18

Documents

Jules Ferry, from Le Tonkin et La Mere-Patrie

Mary Kingsley, Travels in West Africa, (Great Britain and Africa), 1893 and 1895

Map

Vietnam: Divisions in the Nguyen and French Periods

Image

Statue of Liberty Restored

Chapter 19

Documents

Emile Zola, Nana

Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum (Of New Things), 1891

The Great Depression: An Oral Account 1932

Images

Building the Panama Canal

Breaker Boys, Woodward Coal Mines, Kingston, Pa.

Chapter 20

Documents

Doctrine of Fascism (1932) Benito Mussolini

Benito Mussolini, from “The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism”

Map

Diplomatic Crises, 1905-1914

Images

The Vatican

Raphael Sanzio, Detail from The School of Athens, fresco, Vatican Palace, Rome 1509-11

Chapter 21

Documents

M. Carey Thomas, Higher Education for Women (1901)

On Darwin 1860s

Charles Darwin, Autobiography

Images

Chinese pavilion, 1904 Worlds Fair

Machine exhibit, 1904 Worlds Fair

Pygmies, 1904 World’s Fair

Chapter 22

Document

Thomas Edison, The Success of the Electric Light (October 1880)

Maps

Map Discovery: Jewish Migration

Shifting Borders: Eastern Europe After World War I

Video

The Art of Pablo Picasso

Images

Model of Bell’s Telephone

Suffragist Speaking

Chapter 23

Documents

The Murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo 1914 Borijove Jevtic

Francois Carlotti, from “World War I: A Frenchman’s Recollections”

Soldiers’ Accounts of Battle (World War I)

Maps

World War I, 1914-1918

European Alliances on the Eve of World War I

Map Discovery: The Schlieffen Plan and France’s Plan XVII

Balkans

Video

The Outbreak of World War I

Chapter 24

Documents

American Troops in the Trenches (1918)

Woodrow Wilson, The Fourteen Points (1918)

George Clemenceau, “French Demands at the Peace Conference”

Maps

Europe After World War I

The West and the World: Changes in European Empires After World War I

Image

Woodrow Wilson on his way to Versailles, 1919

Chapter 25

Documents

Henry Cabot Lodge’s Objections to Article 10 of the Treaty of Versailles (1919)

Bolshevik Seizure of Power, 1917

Map

Europe in the 1920s and 1930s

Revolution and Civil War in Russia, 1914-1920

Images

Bolshevik Revolution poster

France Demands War Reparations – Cartoon

Chapter 26

Document

Adelheid Popp, “Finding Work: Women Factory Workers

Maps

Atlas Map: The Great Depression

World Distribution of Manufacturing, 1930

Video

Prosperity of the 1920s and the Great Depression

Images

Depression Era Breadlines

Women Workers during World War I

Chapter 27

Document

Mussolini Heaps Contempt on Political Liberalism, 1923

Images

German persecution of the Jews

Spanish Civil War poster

Hitler and Chamberlain, 1938

Hitler at Nuremberg Rally ca. 1928

Chapter 28

Documents

The Holocaust: Memoirs from the Commandant of Auschwitz (1940s) Rudolf Hoess

Winston Churchill, “Their Finest Hour”

Maps

World War II in Europe, 1939-1945

Interactive Map: World War II in Europe

Images

Hitler and Chamberlain, 1938

Hitler celebrating French surrender

Hitler and Mussolini in Munich, 1940

Chapter 29

Maps

Atlas Map: World War II, European Theater

Map Discovery: World War II in Europe

The Nazi Empire in 1942

Video

Normandy Beach, June 6, 1944

Images

D-Day

Eisenhower and Paratroopers in World War II

Operation Overlord, Normandy, 1944

Chapter 30

Documents

Joseph Stalin, excerpts from the “Soviet Victory” Speech, 1946

George C. Marshall, The Marshall Plan, 1947

Map

Post WW2 Division of Austria and Germany

Videos

Truman on the End of World War II

The Big Three Confer – Yalta Conference

Images

Truman, Atlee and Stalin at the Berlin Conference

The Big Three at Yalta

Chapter 31

Documents

Ho Chi Minh on Self Determination

Vietnamese Declaration of Independence (1945) Ho Chi Minh

Resolution Establishing the Viet Minh, 1941

Lyndon Johnson, Message to Congress and the Tonkin Gulf Resolution (1964)

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Fireside Chat (September 6, 1936)

Chapter 32

Documents

American Investigators, from The Effects of Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Franklin Roosevelt, Annual Address to Congress, “The Four Freedoms” (1941)

Map

Germany After World War II

Video

Atomic Bomb at Hiroshima

Images

Atomic bomb mushroom cloud

U.S. Hydrogen Bomb Test over Uninhabited Pacific Island, 1952

Chapter 33

Documents

A Common Market and European Integration (1960)

Fidel Castro Defends the Revolution (1953) Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro: History Will Absolve Me, 1953

Mao Zedong, “A Single Spark Can Start a Prairie Fire,” 1953

Maps

Soviet and Eastern European Boundaries by 1948

Atlas Map: Cold War in Europe, 1950

Chapter 34

Documents

Johnson’s Defense of the U.S. Presence in Vietnam (1965)

Decision Concerning the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966)

Maps

Atlas Map: Conflict in the Middle East, 1945-1997

Interactive Map: The Vietnam War

Videos

Newsreel: Peace March, Thousands Oppose Vietnam War

The Vietnam War

Chapter 35

Documents

Alain Destexhe, from Rwanda and Genocide in the Twentieth Century

Ronald Reagan, Speech to the House of Commons (1982)

Ronald Reagan, Address to the National Association of Evangelicals (1983)

Map

Cold War Alliances

Video

Cold War Connections: Russia, America, Berlin and Cuba

Image

Ronald Reagan

Chapter 36

Documents

Treaty on European Union, 1992

European criticism of American environmental policies, 2007

Maps

Events in Eastern Europe, 1989-1990

The European Union in the Europe of 2003

Europe in 2004

Atlas Map: Present-day Europe


Chapter 37

Documents

Justin Vaïsse, from “Veiled Meaning”

Dirty Politics in the 2008 Election (2007)

Map

European Union

Image

European Union Flag

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Preface

PREFACE:

Preface

Shortly after the start of the new millennium, France is scheduled to give up one of the main features of an independent country. Starting in 2002, a new currency, the euro, will replace the franc, a symbol of France's identity for more than 200 years. Already, French citizens travel with European passports identical to those held by their neighbors from the fourteen other countries of the European Union. Decisions affecting the French economy, environmental policy, and many other vital matters are increasingly taken in the Belgian city of Brussels, home of the Union's governing commission, rather than in Paris. At the same time, as it becomes ever more part of a larger European community, France is also changing its cultural identity. The descendants of immigrants have turned Islam into the traditionally Catholic country's second-largest religion. EuroDisney, an American company's theme park outside of Paris, has replaced Gothic cathedrals and famous museums as France's most popular tourist attraction. Whatever happens in France in the years to come, the country is likely to move steadily farther away from the compact national state whose history is described in this book.

Why, then, should Americans still care about the history of a medium-sized European country with a population less than a quarter of that of the United States? Fifty years ago, the reason seemed obvious. On two occasions in the first half of the twentieth century, the destinies of the two countries were linked, as American troops fought and died to liberate French soil. A knowledge of French history was essential to understanding the origins of those crises.Inaddition, to many Americans, French culture, more than that of any other European country, represented the epitome of taste and sophistication. French artists, French philosophers, French novelists, and French filmmakers represented a tradition that often seemed more profound, more original, and more liberated from confining conventions than our own.

At the start of the twenty-first century, these connections between American and French history are rapidly fading. Yet those Americans who have had the opportunity to live and travel in France realize that an understanding of that country's history still provides important new perspectives for comprehending the world in which we live and the way in which it evolved. Americans may see France as part of a larger European ensemble; Britons, Germans, and the French themselves recognize it as a country that still has a unique identity and often seems determined to go its own way. An understanding of French history helps us realize that the spread of a shared modern technology has by no means made the whole world the same. Thus the study of French history helps Americans better understand our own society's place in the world.

French history retains its fascination as well because of its extraordinary complexity. France was the first European nation to proclaim the principles of modern democracy, yet it had extraordinary difficulty in agreeing on stable political institutions based on these principles. France is now a wealthy industrial country, but it reached this status by a route very different from that of the world's other leading economic powers. A country that fought repeated wars against all its neighbors is now a pillar of European cooperation; a country that once dominated a vast non-European empire now tries to maintain a distinctive world role in other ways—particularly by promoting the use of the French language. France's modern history has been rich in strong personalities who have fascinated those far beyond its borders: Napoléon, Honoré de Balzac, Charles de Gaulle, Simone de Beauvoir. For anyone interested in how human beings face up to dramatic challenges, French history will remain an absorbing story.

Finally, French history deserves our attention because no other country has contributed as much to modern historians' sense of the possibilities of historical study itself. For three generations, French historians have been recognized throughout the world as leaders in the project of broadening and enriching our approach to the past. The names Marc Bloch, Lucien Febvre, Fernand Braudel, among many others, are familiar to anyone who has participated in the effort to include the common people in the story of how our modern world came to be. French historians have been in the forefront in broadening cooperation between history and other disciplines: economics, geography, sociology, anthropology, linguistics, and literary theory. Nowhere better than in the study of France's own history can we see how multifaceted our understanding of the past can be.

The pages that follow are one American historian's effort to communicate the passion and the stimulation that he has experienced over the years in studying the past two and a half centuries of France's national life. They do not pretend to give a definitive account of modern French history: the subject is too vast and the controversies concerning it too deep to permit such a thing. They do attempt to provide a basic framework for the understanding of modern French history and—on issues where historians disagree—to outline fairly the competing interpretations that that history has inspired. This book reflects the diverse contributions of hundreds of historians who have devoted themselves to the subject, both in France and in the many other countries where French history has inspired devoted scholars. Without this community of colleagues, a synthesis like this could never have been attempted. If this book helps teachers to transmit the pleasure that the author has found in striving to understand the experience of the French people over the centuries, and if it encourages students to explore the subject, it will have served its purpose.

In preparing this new edition, I have tried to take into account some of the major developments in historical research since 1993. Throughout the book, I have attempted to incorporate new insights from women's and cultural history, which are currently two of the liveliest fields of research. I have also tried to take into account new research on issues ranging from the politics of the National Assembly in 1789 to the influence of the Soviet Union on the French Communist Party. The five chapters devoted to France between 1871 and 1914 in the previous edition have been reorganized into four chapters in this edition, and the concluding chapters have been extended to cover the end of the Mitterrand presidency, the election victories of Jacques Chirac in 1995 and Lionel Jospin in 1997, and even the French World Cup soccer championship of 1998.

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank the following Prentice Hall reviewers for their care in reading the manuscript and offering suggestions: Leslie Derfler, Florida Atlantic University; Michael S. Smith, University of South Carolina; William B. Cohen, Indiana University; Herrick Chapman, New York University; Michael Hanagan, New School for Social Research; and Patricia O'Brien, University of California, Irvine. My colleague Ellen Furlough offered valuable advice on the changes in the new edition. Matthew Schoenbachler and Holly Grout compiled the index.

Jeremy D. Popkin

Read More Show Less

Introduction

Preface

Shortly after the start of the new millennium, France is scheduled to give up one of the main features of an independent country. Starting in 2002, a new currency, the euro, will replace the franc, a symbol of France's identity for more than 200 years. Already, French citizens travel with European passports identical to those held by their neighbors from the fourteen other countries of the European Union. Decisions affecting the French economy, environmental policy, and many other vital matters are increasingly taken in the Belgian city of Brussels, home of the Union's governing commission, rather than in Paris. At the same time, as it becomes ever more part of a larger European community, France is also changing its cultural identity. The descendants of immigrants have turned Islam into the traditionally Catholic country's second-largest religion. EuroDisney, an American company's theme park outside of Paris, has replaced Gothic cathedrals and famous museums as France's most popular tourist attraction. Whatever happens in France in the years to come, the country is likely to move steadily farther away from the compact national state whose history is described in this book.

Why, then, should Americans still care about the history of a medium-sized European country with a population less than a quarter of that of the United States? Fifty years ago, the reason seemed obvious. On two occasions in the first half of the twentieth century, the destinies of the two countries were linked, as American troops fought and died to liberate French soil. A knowledge of French history was essential to understanding the origins of those crises. In addition, tomany Americans, French culture, more than that of any other European country, represented the epitome of taste and sophistication. French artists, French philosophers, French novelists, and French filmmakers represented a tradition that often seemed more profound, more original, and more liberated from confining conventions than our own.

At the start of the twenty-first century, these connections between American and French history are rapidly fading. Yet those Americans who have had the opportunity to live and travel in France realize that an understanding of that country's history still provides important new perspectives for comprehending the world in which we live and the way in which it evolved. Americans may see France as part of a larger European ensemble; Britons, Germans, and the French themselves recognize it as a country that still has a unique identity and often seems determined to go its own way. An understanding of French history helps us realize that the spread of a shared modern technology has by no means made the whole world the same. Thus the study of French history helps Americans better understand our own society's place in the world.

French history retains its fascination as well because of its extraordinary complexity. France was the first European nation to proclaim the principles of modern democracy, yet it had extraordinary difficulty in agreeing on stable political institutions based on these principles. France is now a wealthy industrial country, but it reached this status by a route very different from that of the world's other leading economic powers. A country that fought repeated wars against all its neighbors is now a pillar of European cooperation; a country that once dominated a vast non-European empire now tries to maintain a distinctive world role in other ways—particularly by promoting the use of the French language. France's modern history has been rich in strong personalities who have fascinated those far beyond its borders: Napoléon, Honoré de Balzac, Charles de Gaulle, Simone de Beauvoir. For anyone interested in how human beings face up to dramatic challenges, French history will remain an absorbing story.

Finally, French history deserves our attention because no other country has contributed as much to modern historians' sense of the possibilities of historical study itself. For three generations, French historians have been recognized throughout the world as leaders in the project of broadening and enriching our approach to the past. The names Marc Bloch, Lucien Febvre, Fernand Braudel, among many others, are familiar to anyone who has participated in the effort to include the common people in the story of how our modern world came to be. French historians have been in the forefront in broadening cooperation between history and other disciplines: economics, geography, sociology, anthropology, linguistics, and literary theory. Nowhere better than in the study of France's own history can we see how multifaceted our understanding of the past can be.

The pages that follow are one American historian's effort to communicate the passion and the stimulation that he has experienced over the years in studying the past two and a half centuries of France's national life. They do not pretend to give a definitive account of modern French history: the subject is too vast and the controversies concerning it too deep to permit such a thing. They do attempt to provide a basic framework for the understanding of modern French history and—on issues where historians disagree—to outline fairly the competing interpretations that that history has inspired. This book reflects the diverse contributions of hundreds of historians who have devoted themselves to the subject, both in France and in the many other countries where French history has inspired devoted scholars. Without this community of colleagues, a synthesis like this could never have been attempted. If this book helps teachers to transmit the pleasure that the author has found in striving to understand the experience of the French people over the centuries, and if it encourages students to explore the subject, it will have served its purpose.

In preparing this new edition, I have tried to take into account some of the major developments in historical research since 1993. Throughout the book, I have attempted to incorporate new insights from women's and cultural history, which are currently two of the liveliest fields of research. I have also tried to take into account new research on issues ranging from the politics of the National Assembly in 1789 to the influence of the Soviet Union on the French Communist Party. The five chapters devoted to France between 1871 and 1914 in the previous edition have been reorganized into four chapters in this edition, and the concluding chapters have been extended to cover the end of the Mitterrand presidency, the election victories of Jacques Chirac in 1995 and Lionel Jospin in 1997, and even the French World Cup soccer championship of 1998.

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank the following Prentice Hall reviewers for their care in reading the manuscript and offering suggestions: Leslie Derfler, Florida Atlantic University; Michael S. Smith, University of South Carolina; William B. Cohen, Indiana University; Herrick Chapman, New York University; Michael Hanagan, New School for Social Research; and Patricia O'Brien, University of California, Irvine. My colleague Ellen Furlough offered valuable advice on the changes in the new edition. Matthew Schoenbachler and Holly Grout compiled the index.

Jeremy D. Popkin

Read More Show Less

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Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

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