This is an indispensable guide to understanding France and the French. As usual, Arthur Goldhammer's translation is superb.
This unusual book deals fascinatingly with everything from the creation of the rousing anthem "La Marseillaise" to the changing role of Joan of Arc in France's collective memory. Even the Eiffel Tower shines forth in surprising new facets.
Provides arresting genealogies of a number of the major cleavages in French history, with chapters on the embattled relationship of Jews to the French republic, the peculiar affinities of Gaulism and Communism, and... Paris' haughty condescension toward la province.... Without resorting to polemics, the volume reminds us that the image of the French past is confected as much out of amnesia as out of memory.
A magisterial attempt to define what it is to be French.
(Times Literary Supplement
A magnificent achievement.... [The essays included] are the high-carat jewels of the project.
(The New Republic
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French