Raison d’Etre

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

No books hold so many hostages to fortunes as those about national character. They leave themselves open to charges of crude essentialising and inevitable incompleteness. Counter examples will be brandished like trumps and gripes aired about some crucial overlooked behaviour or attitude that supposedly encapsulates a people. But in the case of the French, as […]

Vichy Business

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Jonathan Fenby ends his history of France from the Revolution to the present day on a fashionably gloomy note: The level of unhappiness two centuries after the Revolution and the empire had ended … was, at base, rooted in a determination to stick to an image of the French nation which had been outpaced by […]

Napoleon Dynamo

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

‘What a novel my life has been!’ Patrice Gueniffey opens this magisterial and often exhilarating biography with Napoleon’s words, uttered in conversation with Emmanuel de Las Cases during his exile on St Helena. They go far to explain the emperor’s continued appeal to scholars and the general public alike, but they also hint at one […]

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