- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Hill and Wang; 1st edition (September 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0809046504
- ISBN-13: 978-0809046508
- Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,485,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Idea of France 1st Edition
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From Library Journal
Scholars interested in the growing field of national and cultural identity studies will draw valuable lessons from the approach taken by Birnbaum (politics and philosophy, Sorbonne; The Jews of the Republic, LJ 9/1/96), one of France's leading political theorists. While on one level his book is a study of political ideas in France since the revolution, on another it is a demonstration of the centrality of history in understanding national identity. Birnbaum demonstrates how contemporary political debates in France over issues of multiculturalism, Americanization, and European integration must be understood within the centuries-old context of a persistent and continual clash among different groups. He explains how the major events of modern French history have relentlessly challenged ideas of pluralism and toleration and shows how over the course of history the internal views of what it means to be French have changed. Although as an intellectual historian Birnbaum draws heavily upon the ideas of theorists like Emmanuel Sieyes, Alexis de Tocqueville, Joseph de Maistre, Charles Maurras, and Johann Gottfried Herder, he also devotes ample attention to key political, social, and cultural events of the post-1968 period. This brilliant and engrossing book is recommended for academic collections and for scholars in French history and national identity studies. Marie Marmo Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., NJ
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Birnbaum, professor of politics and philosophy at the Sorbonne, has previously focused on the Jewish experience in French history, but here he diverges to take in the big picture of ideas and their part in creating the French national identity. This is a monumental study, one requiring as much focus from the reader as Birnbaum required of himself in creating the work. The Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre, the French Revolution, the Dreyfus Affair, Vichy, and the Algerian War--Birnbaum questions whether these past internal ruptures aren't just backdrops to the new French age of reconciliation and mutual acceptance. Past thinkers, such as Tocqueville, argued that France was fated to being quarrelsome, fractious, and violent in its internal hatreds. But the author demonstrates that, thanks to both the republican state and the Catholic Church laying down their arms, so to speak, and abandoning their claims to unify the minds of the people, "immutable cleavages have been repaired," and France can now look forward to a bright future. A highly original study of political ideas. Allen Weakland
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