A likely story: a review of France: A modern history by Albert Guérard.

This modern history dates from 1969, just after the establishment of the Fifth Republic.  It begins with the Palaeolithic, and calls itself a biography of a nation.

Title page of the book as it says it is. France.

Title page of the book as it says it is. France.

There is a sense about the book of the author explaining France to the Anglo-American world, and of elucidating the French sensibility, one that is both nationalistic and pound and yet aware that the nation is not all (“Above France, civilisation.”).  The book is opinionated, pithy, supportive of religion in general, and at times defensive.  It is an idiosyncratic work, factual as far as I can tell.  Some passages resonate today:

Arab nationalism, now such a burning problem for the French and for the whole world, had its inception in the efforts of the Young Turks to impose the supremacy of the Osmanlis.  It was sharpened when, after fighting on the side of the Allies, the Arabs, and not the Turks, were placed under tutelage, as though they were the lesser breed.  It was goaded into frenzy when the Zionist state was forced upon them, without any regard for their sentiments.  It became more darkly fanatical when financial aid was proffered to Egypt, on the condition that the donors were to dictate its policy.  The Arabs, in Cairo, in Iraq, in Algiers, will refuse to be bought.  Prosperity may be a substitute for dignity, for a handful of profiteer: never for the depths of a people.

There is much in this to argue with and at the same time much that is perceptive.  This is a good summary of the book.

Worth a look for the student of European history.

Of course.


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About Darren

I'm a scientist by training, based in Australia.

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