Nineteenth-century France was one of the world's great cultural beacons, renowned for its dazzling literature, philosophy, art, poetry and technology. Yet this was also a tumultuous century of political anarchy and bloodshed, where each generation of the French Revolution's 'children' would experience their own wars, revolutions and terrors. From soldiers to priests, from peasants to Communards, from feminists to literary figures such as Victor Hugo and Honoré de Balzac, Robert Gildea's brilliant new history explores every aspect of these rapidly changing times, and the people who lived through them.
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Robert Gildea has spent a lifetime studying modern France. Among his major works are France Since 1945 and The Past in French History. His last book, Marianne in Chains, won the Wolfson Prize for History in 2002. He is Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford.From School Library Journal:
In this thoroughly researched work of scholarship, Gildea (history, Oxford Univ.) argues that the French Revolution spawned two conflicting ideologies that dominated the course of French history from 1800 to 1914. Through the lives of five generations of French citizens, Gildea elucidates the seemingly irrevocable differences between these two opposing camps. The Monarchists viewed the Revolution as an abhorrent rebellion against legitimate authority, while the Republicans embraced the Revolution as the unfettering of human potential. This conflict became manifest through the turbulent events of 1815, 1848, 1851, and 1871 when French blood was shed to assert the conflicting legacies of the Revolution. Gildea (Marianne in Chains: Daily Life in the Heart of France During the German Occupation) maintains that this conflict permeated the entire fabric of French society, and it was only the unifying crisis of the Great War that finally ended the turbulent debate over the legitimate legacy of the Revolution. This thesis should generate controversy since historians like Julian Jackson (France: The Dark Years 1941–44) maintain that the divisive legacy of the Revolution survived beyond World War I and the conflict included Bonapartists, Socialists, and Communists as well as monarchists and republicans. Still, Gildea's book is a worthy addition to all comprehensive modern French history collections.—Jim Doyle, Rome, GA
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