Country and destination, nation and idea, France has a rich and complex history that fascinates the world and attracts millions of visitors each year to its chateaux and cathedrals, boulevards and vineyards. In this succinct and entertaining volume, historian Jeremy Black narrates how France’s past has created its distinct character and powerful artistic, intellectual, and political influence across the globe.
Black takes readers from the cave paintings of Lascaux and the origins of Gothic architecture, to Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and the Lumiere brothers, and even into the cataclysm of the 1789 revolution, the countercultural student protests of 1968, and the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) today. His account presents a vivid take on history that emphasizes the unexpected nature of events and unpredictable outcomes of a fragmented and crisis-prone nation.
In retelling France’s story, Black explores some of its most famous philosophy, literature, art, and architecture—and ties them to the military, political, and cultural shifts that led to their development. With color illustrations, France is a short, easy-to-digest history of a vast subject, and a helpful guide to understanding France today.
Jeremy Black is one of the United Kingdom’s most respected and prolific historians. He is a senior fellow at Policy Exchange, an emeritus professor of history at Exeter University, and a renowned expert on the history of war. His recent books include A Brief History of Italy, A Brief History of Spain, and France: A Short History.