The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography from the Revolution to the First World War (Google eBook)
"A witty, engaging narrative style....[Robb's] approach is particularly engrossing."—New York Times Book Review, front-page review.A narrative of exploration—full of strange landscapes and even stranger inhabitants—that explains the enduring fascination of France. While Gustave Eiffel was changing the skyline of Paris, large parts of France were still terra incognita. Even in the age of railways and newspapers, France was a land of ancient tribal divisions, prehistoric communication networks, and pre-Christian beliefs. French itself was a minority language.
Graham Robb describes that unknown world in arresting narrative detail. He recounts the epic journeys of mapmakers, scientists, soldiers, administrators, and intrepid tourists, of itinerant workers, pilgrims, and herdsmen with their millions of migratory domestic animals. We learn how France was explored, charted, and colonized, and how the imperial influence of Paris was gradually extended throughout a kingdom of isolated towns and villages.
The Discovery of France explains how the modern nation came to be and how poorly understood that nation still is today. Above all, it shows how much of France—past and present—remains to be discovered. A New York Times Notable Book, Publishers Weekly Best Book, Slate Best Book, and Booklist Editor's Choice.
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Review: The Discovery of FranceUser Review - Lesley - Goodreads
This book is greater than the sum of its parts. Each individual chapter taken in isolation is of interest, but the epilogue, which Robb executes with characteristic lightness of touch, encourages the ... Read full review
Review: The Discovery of France: A Historical GeographyUser Review - Mackay - Goodreads
Three point five stars, really, because I have the same sort of love/irritation with this book that Robb himself seems to feel for France. This is not a traditional history--it's not the story of ... Read full review