A History of France

John Julius Norwich. Atlantic Monthly, $30 (400p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2890-4
An author of many popular books on history (Four Princes: A History of Venice) and the son of a British ambassador to France, the late Norwich offers a brief overview of the country’s political and military history from Roman times through 1945, with much on kings (and later prime ministers and presidents), political intrigue, mistresses, and battles. Norwich’s strength is the colorful anecdote, such as when he reveals that during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, French generals, having good maps of the German side of the border but not of their own, “had considerable difficulty in finding the units they were supposed to command,” or describes the antics of Paul Déschanel, who governed for seven months in 1920 while suffering from mental illness and once left mid-meeting to jump into a lake. Norwich gallops through decades and sometimes even centuries of history with extreme speed: the initial 14-page chapter covers 900 years; in a single sentence he dispenses with the greatest health catastrophe in the country’s history, the Black Death. And he devotes about the same modest amount of space to the deaths of Emperor Louis Napoleon and his son during the 1870s as to the far more consequential Dreyfus Affair two decades later. While often informative and entertaining, this isn’t a deep dive. Agent: Felicity Bryan, Felicity Bryan Assoc. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/27/2018
Release date: 10/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-0-8021-4777-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-6652-2357-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-6652-2356-0
Compact Disc - 978-1-9773-1788-9
Open Ebook - 400 pages - 978-0-8021-4670-0
MP3 CD - 978-1-9773-6788-4
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