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The age of Napoleon transformed Europe, laying the foundations for the modern world. Now Alistair Horne, one of the great chroniclers of French history gives us a fresh account of that remarkable time. Born into poverty on the remote island of Corsica, he rose to prominence in the turbulent years following the French Revolution, when most of Europe was arrayed against France. Through a string of brilliant and improbable victories (gained as much through his remarkable ability to inspire his troops as through his military genius), Napoleon brought about a triumphant peace that made him the idol of France and, later, its absolute ruler. Heir to the Revolution, Napoleon himself was not a revolutionary; rather he was a reformer and a modernizer, both liberator and autocrat. Looking to the Napoleonic wars that raged on the one hand, and to the new social order emerging on the other, Horne incisively guides readers through every aspect of Napoleon's two-decade rule: from France's newfound commitment to an aristocracy based on merit rather than inheritance, to its civil code (Napoleon's most important and enduring legacy), to censorship, cuisine, the texture of daily life in Paris, and the influence of Napoleon abroad. At the center of Horne's story is a singular man, one whose ambition, willpower, energy and ability to command changed history, and continues to fascinate us today.
La Belle Franceis a sweeping, grand narrative written with all the verve, erudition, and vividness that are the hallmarks of the acclaimed British historian Alistair Horne. It recounts the hugely absorbing story of the country that has contributed to the world so much talent, style, and political innovation. Beginning with Julius Caesar's division of Gaul into three parts, Horne leads us through the ages from Charlemagne to Chirac, touring battlefields from the Hundred Years' War to Indochina and Algeria, and giving us luminous portraits of the nation's leaders, philosophers, writers, artists, and composers. This is a captivating, beautifully illustrated, and comprehensive yet concise history of France. From the Trade Paperback edition.
The Algerian War (1954-1962) was a savage war, killing an estimated one million Muslim Algerians and expelling the same number of European settlers from their homes. It was to cause the fall of six French prime minsters and the collapse of the Fourth Republic. It came close to plunging France into civil war. The story told here contains heroism and tragedy, and poses issues of enduring relevance beyond the confines of either geography or time.
When Paris was a small island in the middle of the Seine, its gentle climate, natural vineyards and overhanging fig trees made it the favorite retreat of Roman emperors and de facto capital of western Europe. Over two millennia the muddy Lutetia, as the Romans called Paris, pushed its borders far beyond the Right and Left Banks and continued to stretch into the imagination and affection of visitors and locals. Now the spirit of Paris is captured by the celebrated historian Alistair Horne, who has devoted twenty-five years to a labor of love. Seven Ages of Paris begins with the reign of the forceful Philippe Auguste, who greatly expanded the Capetian kingdom before devoting himself to fortifying the city and to the construction of the Louvre. Paris shed blood in the Hundred Years War and in the religious wars between Catholics and Huguenots and prospered under Henri IV's reconciliation. His grandson, Louis XIV, built the famed palace at Versailles and patronized the playwrights Molière and Racine. With the ancien régime swept away by the Revolution, Napoleon ushered in the Imperial age, and, subsequently, the Second Empire. Partly to dampen Paris's revolutionary zeal, Baron Haussmann modernized the city: avenues were widened, squares expanded and the medieval market at Les Halles razed. Horne portrays the Prussians bivouacking on the Champs-Elysées in 1871. Paris bounced back after the war: the 1900 World Exposition showed off an electrified Champs-Elysées and the Métro station entrances in the Art Nouveau style. Most visibly, the Eiffel Tower went up in 1889 to mark the hundredth anniversary of the Revolution. The hubris of the Belle Epoque led straight into the Great War. The Armistice and the Paris Peace Conference sealed a phony peace, and when war resumed the city suffered four terrible years of occupation and was visited by Hitler himself. Liberation brought the last of Horne's seven ages, the Fifth Republic, headed by de Gaulle. Seven Ages of Paris also recalls the women who defined Parisian life--from Héloïse down to Josephine Baker. With an elegiac description of the Père Lachaise Cemetery, Horne brings to an end a brilliantly written history of the world's most captivating city.
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