France in the World: A New Global History

We rated this book:


Writing the definitive history of a nation starting in the year 34,000 BCE is a massive and massively ridiculous exercise in futility, so the editors of France in the World said f*ck it, and delivered a jangling collection of meandering essays instead.

There is no concise narrative, no unified voice, no singular philosophy. There’s not even agreement among all the essays. It is a “decentered, antinationalistic” history.

Frantz Fanon and the fight for Algerian independence, prehistoric cave painters, the Reign of Terror, Michel Foucault’s death, the Kingdom of the Franks, the ceaseless fighting with England, Charlie Hebdo, Coco Chanel. French history has many facets.

“Begin at the beginning, or in the middle if you prefer, and see where you end up,” Stéphane Gerson, editor of the English-language edition, encourages, so I began in the Eighteenth Century, with the Enlightenment and the Marquis de Sade and the Revolution. But this freedom comes with a burden, for “it falls upon us, as attentive readers and critical thinkers, to create meaning out of the apparent chaos of history.”

Through reading, we shape France. We chose where to lay the stress, where to lay the blame; we determine the meaning of events. We collaborate with historians and our book is terrific.

Reviewed By:

Author Patrick Boucheron, Editor • Stephane Gerson, Editor
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 688 pages
Publisher Other Press
Publish Date 2019-09-04
ISBN 9781481494922
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue April 2019
Category History


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