The French Century Summary

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Amber Shergill History 1109 Book Report #1 The French Century: An Illustrated History of Modern France History used to be somewhat of a backwater subject, of interest to historians, scientists, psychologists, and people who liked spending their spare time in the dusty section of a local library. But in the past 20 years or so, it has become incredibly mainstream with a huge increase in the number of students studying the subject. The general public has also woken up to the fact that understanding something of history can be useful for making sense of both themselves, why they are the way they are, and understanding other people by the paths that history has laid out for them. Brian Moynahan, an English journalist and historian, is a…show more content…
I expected many in-depth personal stories of peoples' experiences and references to small battles that I had never heard of. Instead I feel like Moynahan has come across some great facts during his time researching and hails the reader with them without making many useful interpretations or unifications. I can't fault his research, as he seems to have plenty of examples, but I somehow feel shortchanged. It seems like he is forcing me, as a reader, to do too more work/research than I should need to while reading a textbook as the material he presents should be sufficient enough. I am finding that I often am unclear as to his references and assumptions. His transitions seem to either not exist in between chapters or be so elusive that they seem out of place and awkward. I feel far out of my element at times as I'm not quite sure why Moynahan includes as much detail as he often does because sometimes the discussion he goes into is too far fetched and not the easiest to…show more content…
As he writes in his Fin de Siècle about the lasting legacy of the Revolution, he also sets out to make an argument. He wants to show how today's France has been, perhaps uniquely, shambled by its history. He wants to emphasis how the sides that opposed each other in 1789 have never really gone away. Part of his thesis is that a predisposition to conflict and against compromise has made it harder for the French (than for the British) to create a suitable political and economic system for modern day society. Here I am less convinced that Moynahan has made his case. Yes, the shadow of the Bastille and all its associations still hangs heavy over France, and, yes, the French may be more prone to ideological division, between establishment and rebels, than many others in the industrialized world. But does he really explain why France has adapted less well to modernity but is that premise even true? That is for the reader to

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