France Since 1870: Culture, Politics and Society
The defeat of France by Prussia in 1871 marked the death of an illusion nurtured for much of the 19th century that the French could regain their Napoleonic role as arbiters of world affairs. France's subsequent history has been a sometimes successful, sometimes catastrophic attempt to come to terms with its diminished status. To this day, French politics remains saturated in the mythology of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic periods with their twin legacies of mass action (the Popular Front, the events of 1968) and, in effect, popular dictatorship (Petain, de Gaulle). This history describes the great political, economic, cultural and social events that have defined the period, from the convulsive establishment of a French republic to the apotheosis of French national culture in World War I, from the acrimonious failure of the 1930s and the Occupation to France's resurgence as a central focus of postwar Europe. The book ends with President Mitterand's retirement, an epochal event that marks the severing of France's last link with the Vichy government and the Fourth Republic.
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