La Belle France: A Short History

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Knopf, 2005 - History - 485 pages
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La Belle France is a sweeping, grand narrative written with all the verve, erudition and vividness that are the hallmarks of the acclaimed British historian Alistair Horne. It recounts the hugely absorbing story of the country that has contributed to the world so much talent, style and political innovation.

Beginning with Julius Caesar's division of Gaul into three parts, Horne leads us—in quick, illuminating vignettes—through the ages: from Charlemagne, Philippe-Auguste and the Sun King, Louis XIV, to Cardinal Richelieu and Napoleon Bonaparte, Charles de Gaulle and Jacques Chirac. He shows us a country that has suffered and survived seemingly endless warfare: the Hundred Years' War, the French Revolution, the Napoleonic wars, the Franco-Prussian War, World Wars I and II and colonial battles in Indochina and Algeria. He gives us luminous portraits of the nation's great leaders, but he is as thorough and compelling in his discussions of the lives of the peasants, the haute bourgeoisie, the sansculottes of the Revolution and the great philosophers and writers, artists and composers—Montaigne, Voltaire, Balzac, Renoir, Bizet, Monet, Proust, Satie and Sartre, among them—who have helped shape Western thought and culture.

This is a captivating, beautifully illustrated and comprehensive yet concise history of France.

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LA BELLE FRANCE: A Short History

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A sweeping, literate history of a nation that the English-speaking powers have found vexatious and puzzling—but certainly never boring.François Mitterand, the socialist president of France from 1981 ... Read full review

La Belle France : A Short History

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

General readers will welcome this colorful, quick-paced, and highly readable narrative by one of Britain's leading authorities on French history. Prolific author Horne (fellow, St. Anthony's Coll ... Read full review


Caesar to the Capetians
Abelard to PhilippeAuguste
SaintLouis to Philippe le Bel

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About the author (2005)

Alistair Horne is the author of eighteen previous books, including A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954–1962, The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916, How Far from Austerlitz?: Napoleon 1805–1815 and the official biography of British prime minister Harold Macmillan. He is a fellow at St. Anthony's College, Oxford, and lives in Oxfordshire. He was awarded the French Légion d'Honneur in 1993 and received a knighthood in 2003 for his work on French history.

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