7 03 2013

My French Quest

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Paris is an ancient city. The origins of Paris, then called Parisii, go back to the Gallo-Roman period in 300 BC.  Today, one can still see the remnants from this period in the Arènes des Lutèce located in the Latin Quarter or in the Crypte of the Notre Dame; however, most of Paris has been built and rebuilt since that time.  The greatest transformation of this impressive city came during the reign of Napoleon III and his principal architect, Baron George Haussmann from 1850-1870.  In fact, the boulevards and architecture that Paris is famous for and that is reproduced on posters and postcards were created during these two important decades.  Not only did this team improve the visible functionality and aesthetics of Paris through new boulevards, squares, public buildings and parks, it also provided the city with a much improved sewage system and water supply. This transformation became a…

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2 03 2013

My French Quest

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Christophe Charle provides history students with an up-to-date summary of his and other social historians’ findings  on the social history of France.  Unlike recent books on this subject by Gerard Noiriel and Annie Moulin which treat the workers and peasants of French society, he gives new perspectives on all social groups including the nobility, bourgeoisie, elites, middle classes, and petty bourgeoisie.  He examines the dynamics and relationships within these groups from 1815 through the Belle Epoque of the early 1900’s with direct contact with documents and secondary sources.  While Charle respects the views of popular historian Ernest Labrousse and his Marxist interpretations of French historiography, the purpose of this book is to examine the social microhistory and the monographs of specific groups which do not fit into the Marxist and Labrousseian perspective.

Charle does argue in favor of gathering new data from the period following the Revolution  including information…

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