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A Concise History of France
- Gesprochen von: Mark Meadows
- Spieldauer: 19 Std. und 25 Min.
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Ranging from the early Middle Ages to the present, this is one of the broadest and most up-to-date studies of French history available in English. Among its central themes are the relationships between state and society, the impact of war, competition for power, and the ways in which power has been used. Whilst taking full account of major figures such as Philip Augustus, Henri IV, Louis XIV, Napoleon and de Gaulle, it sets their activities within the broader context of changing economic and social structures and beliefs, and offers rich insights into the lives of ordinary men and women. The recording also includes a chapter on contemporary France - its society and political system as a result of globalization, rising unemployment, a failing educational system, growing social and racial tensions, corruption, the rise of the extreme right, and a widespread loss of confidence in political leaders.
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A disapointing read
My hopes when I picked up this book were quite high. To me, there is a lack of good general histories of entire countries or areas. This one is failing at teaching me what I seek to know. The introduction is long and tedious and the methodological justification seemed out of a University discussion, not a "concise" book of the history of France, aimed at a general public. A University public will have heard these arguments, the amateur wont care. Furthermore, the entire first chapter adresses commonplace information on medieval Europe. It felt misplaced. When the book started to go into the political history of France, my interest was finally sparked - only to be dashed again within an hour. The text cant seem to keep to a time and the complete lack of chronology hurts the presentation and overall coherence. A talk of state formation jumps from century to century in medieval France, to the 19th century, only to go back to capetian kings within a few centuries. If there was a strong central thesis to the chapter or book, this might work - as it stands, it really doesnt. I know the author specifically states his intention to leave chronology behind. This doesnt work in a book like this one - not all histories must be chronological, but this kind of picking a subordinate bit of a topic and covering it through the centuries only to go back to the original time is just confusing, especially when one isnt very familiar with every king or Person of interest. What I expected was a french version of Robert Tomb's "The English and their History" - that book is twice the size, yet easy to follow due to better structuring of ist information. Another very good example would be "The shortest history of Germany" by James Hawes - much shorter than this, chronoligical, yet not ignoring the general issues raised in a work like this. There is probably Merit in this book and I will continue to listen, with difficulty. But I doubt I will make it to the end if it doesnt seriously improve.