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French Century: An Illustrated History of Modern France

Overview

Sixteen chapters cover the history of France from the end of the 19th century to the present day, encapsulating everything from political events and scientific discoveries to cultural achievements and sporting triumphs. The five presidents of France’s fifth republic–Charles de Gaulle, Georges Pompidou, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, François Mitterand, and Jacques Chirac–have led the country through tremendous change in all sectors, and their respective reigns are covered in detail. The Dreyfus Affair, the May 1968 ...

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Overview

Sixteen chapters cover the history of France from the end of the 19th century to the present day, encapsulating everything from political events and scientific discoveries to cultural achievements and sporting triumphs. The five presidents of France’s fifth republic–Charles de Gaulle, Georges Pompidou, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, François Mitterand, and Jacques Chirac–have led the country through tremendous change in all sectors, and their respective reigns are covered in detail. The Dreyfus Affair, the May 1968 student protests, the onset of a socialist government in 1981, and two world wars are but a few French landmarks that have changed the face of Europe and the world. French culture flourished in the 20th century. Colette, Proust, Emile Zola, and Jules Verne wrote classics in literature while Picasso, Rodin, the Dadaists, and the Surrealists redefined art. Haussmann’s urban plan and I. M. Pei’s pyramid set new standards in architecture. Sarah Bernhard and Josephine Baker revolutionized the performing arts while Camille Saint-Saëns, Claude Debussy, Pablo Casals, and Maurice Ravel set the era to music. The Tour de France, Lacoste tennis, and World Cup soccer energized the sports scene. Innovations in science came from Louis Pasteur, Marie Curie, and Henry Bequerel. This book includes two hundred and photographs of the main events and key personalities of the century.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Though Moynahan (The British Century) covers only the last century, he persuasively argues that, for the French, history never dies. Left and Right still continue, for instance, to hurl accusations at each other over the late-19th-century Dreyfus affair. Moynahan traces this sense of radicalism and reactionism to the undying influence of the Revolution: "Nothing... has weaned the French from" it. Unfortunately, for all the talk of liberty, equality, fraternity, as Moynahan points out, there is no mention of justice and legality. Hence France's reliance on extraparliamentary and extrajudicial protest to decide policy. Still, he says, the once-infectious brilliance of Gallic style and culture more than compensated for the occasional riot. Today, mourns Moynahan, a former foreign correspondent for the London Sunday Times, the once passionate French "are tending to the sclerotic, hidebound, dull"-a result of their country trying to fit in with the rest of Europe. It's uncommon to see an author encouraging the French to stand out more, rather than less. This volume, with its well-chosen and rarely seen photographs, and its brisk, efficient historical narrative covering the country's social, political, intellectual and economic life, serves admirably as a primer for tourists, students and those seeking to understand France and the French. 200 b&w illus. (Oct. 16)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

This photographic journey through modern France is a tour de force to be celebrated by Francophiles and general readers alike. In a companion volume to his best-selling The British Century, journalist Moynahan (correspondent, Sunday Times, London) has captured in both text and images the spirit of a changing France. While certainly not a standard history textbook, the volume is organized chronologically, beginning with the siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-7 and continuing through the belle epoque, both world wars, and the changing fortunes of the postwar period. Accompanied by engaging and arresting photographs, Moynahan's text explains how historical, political, and cultural events have both shaped the French imagination and influenced the world. The work is especially strong in representing French influence on the arts as well as sports, entertainment, fashion, and intellectual life. After celebrating the glories of the postwar period ("les trentes glorieuses") the book arrives at France today. Moynahan sees France as undergoing an identity crisis as it deals with a host of ills: fears of a loss of identity, bristling resentment at foreign influence, and changing demographics. Highly recommended.
—Marie Marmo Mullaney

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9782080300157
  • Publisher: Rizzoli
  • Publication date: 10/16/2007
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Brian Moynahan, best-selling author and journalist, writes for many British and American newspapers including The Times. He has published numerous historical accounts of world powers and religious subjects including The British Century, Rasputin: The Saint Who Sinned and The Faith: A History of Christianity.

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