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A Brief History of France Paperback – June 28, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: Brief History Of...
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Running Press; 1 Original edition (June 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762441208
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762441204
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Cecil Jenkins is the Dean of European Studies at Sussex University. He has written books on Francois Mauriac and Andre Malraux, as well as other twentieth century French writers. He lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 22 customer reviews
I will reread again soon.
Kathy Sheehan
This one fit the need perfectly to provide an overview for context and detail for particular times and locations.
Steve
Very interesting, well written, fast reading.
Rose Lee

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Blumenau TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
I suppose this book was written for a readership which is pretty well new to the subject, and which is more interested, as I think the author is, in recent than in more distant centuries. As such it is a workmanlike, if uneven, summary of the whole of French history in a mere 300 or so pages - uneven because the first half of the book takes us from the Cro-Magnon cave-dwellers to the 1880s, and the second half from the 1880s right up to the end of 2010. Jenkins gallops through the first 15 centuries in 45 pages; trots at a fair lick through the next 270 years in some 60 pages; then begins to slow down somewhat, until the last four decades are covered remarkably well in some 65 pages - much the best part of the book. He makes room for comments about the most important cultural figures, and these remarks, too, grow from a useful sentence or two in the middle of the book to more extensive passages as we go on. It is all a remarkable feat of compression. The penultimate chapter considers what might be the nature of the "French Exception", and there are a few similar pages at the very end; but, apart from that, there are no new reflections; and anyone who knows anything about any one period of French history is unlikely to learn anything new from the relevant pages - though there are some tit-bits like the Astérix view of the ancient Gauls; the church in the eleventh century trying to impose "The Truce of God" (that there should be no fighting between a Wednesday evening and a Monday morning); the homosexuality of Louis XIII (which was new to me, at any rate); the British attempt to blow up Napoleon Bonaparte in 1800 as he left the opening night of Haydn's Creation oratorio (ditto).
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By shuttledude on January 12, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book offers exactly what I was looking for, a history of France that mentions pre-Revolution events without emphasizing them. In fact, the nearer to the present, the more detail given. It is written with a view of France from several vantage points (not just "academic" history, but art, music, political aspirations of key individuals, architecture, attitude of the people, food/wine, The French Exception, etc.). The author's writing style is also very pleasing to me, but of course that is purely personal and not everyone would (or should) agree.

Get the book! I believe you'll like it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By George Larsen on February 18, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this book to prepare for a month tour of France. It is written from a Brittan's point of view who assumes some level of basic understanding of European history for overall context. The author's vocabulary and sentence structure is is very sophisticated and British. He objectively delves into the complexities of French history sufficiently, without too much detail, to enable the understanding of the key personalities and events that shaped the French nation and culture of today. This book has given me a good non-judgemental understanding of French history and an appreciation of how and why the French culture evolved to what it is today.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Steve on March 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was looking for a book to provide the big picture of French history prior to a 1st trip there. This one fit the need perfectly to provide an overview for context and detail for particular times and locations. It was easy and fun to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dan on July 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The strength of this book is its good balance of breadth and brevity. My biggest criticism is that the history progressed toward a more and more homogeneous POLITICAL account of France's history, with a heavy focus on a gubernatorial system unfamiliar to the average American reader. Not only did this seem one-dimensional, but it made it difficult to keep up with differing political parties, persons, and positions without overlaying the, with their a,Erica's equivalent ("liberal party" is not the same in France as in America, nor does "president" connote the same positional authority in France). The reader is often left to guess what certain political actions mean (for example, the president "dissolving the Assembly).

So, 4.5 stars for the first half of the book and 2 for the second half.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John E. Gres on August 5, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nice concise history of the French culture. Hits all the important events with very little "fat". Should be required reading for anyone traveling to France.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kathy Sheehan on November 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Factual, informative and very interesting. A must read for anyone even slightly interested in France. I will reread again soon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By savinggrace on August 1, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I purchased the Kindle version of this book, which has the wrong date (month) of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. I did enjoy the book until the 15th Chapter, which was very draggy. I now know a lot more about the country I plan to visit again this month. I am amazed that there were 15 constitutions, when the USA is still on number one. I would recommend this to anyone who wants an easy read that explains how France got to be where it is today. The part about the France's Vichy Nazi government gave me more than I had learned falling asleep watching the History Channel. Yes, this is a good short history France.
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