Few modern countries can boast of such a lengthy history as France, a staple of European maps for the last millennium. This engaging narrative analyses French political, social and cultural history since 987, in a single volume. Through revolution, war and peace, it explores how the Frankland of 1000AD has grown into the France we know today.
When we think of France we often evoke images of fine food and wine, the elegant boulevards of Paris, the chic beaches of St Tropez. Yet, as the largest country in Europe, it is a place of huge diversity. The idea of 'Frenchness' emerged from over 2000 years of history and it is a riveting story from Roman conquest to the present day. Cecil Jenkins tells the story of the formation of this nation through its people, great events and culture. Through this narrative he charts why the French began to see themselves as so different from the rest of Europe and why, today, they face the same problems of identity as many other nations.
"A witty, engaging narrative style…[Robb's] approach is particularly engrossing." —New York Times Book 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.