Tag France

Looking Back at the First World War

Today marks the centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I. To commemorate the day, we sat down with Bruno Cabanes, author of August 1914: France, the Great War, and a Month that Changed the World Forever, to discuss what he discovered about the war through his research and

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Patrick Modiano’s Paris

Mark Polizzotti— The Paris of Patrick Modiano’s fictions is a city that no longer exists, and perhaps never did. There is a character and a topology typical of his version of the city, a peculiar atmosphere (even when the sun is blazing, the streets seem shrouded in gray), an architecture,

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The World’s First Corporations

It is commonly believed that the first corporations were English and Dutch trading corporations from the 1600s. But Germain Sicard, in an overlooked 1952 thesis, argued that the first corporations arose much earlier, in mills from the 1300s in Toulouse, France. His landmark research brings these mills to life and

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Léon Blum and the Forty-Hour Workweek

Pierre Birnbaum— On June 21st, 1936, following the June 7th signing of the Matignon Agreements, the Popular Front government voted in the forty-hour workweek. They were led by Léon Blum, who had triumphed in the May 1936 elections. The law was a real revolution, a reconsideration of labor conditions for

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The Arts, Occupied: France’s Shameful Peace with the Nazis

Read an excerpt from The Shameful Peace “Long live the shameful peace,” said writer and artist Jean Cocteau. It was World War II; France was now occupied by German forces, and the cultural elite were faced with how to survive. Frederic Spotts takes Cocteau’s offhand remark as his title in The

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The Pride of the Veil

When one hears the term dress code, images come to mind of the French teenage media darlings of last winter, fighting for their right to wear skimpier clothes to school. A new school rule had stated that inappropriate clothing choices like short skirts, piercings, board shorts, and clothing with holes

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J’Accuse! (Heard That One Before?)

On February 7, 1898, French writer Émile Zola was brought to trial for libel in his publication of “J’Accuse” in L’Aurore, a daily, leftist paper in Paris. His indictment of the French military’s treatment of the Drefyus Affair catapulted the anti-Semitic, pro-nationalist conspiracy to international recognition. The sympathetic camp of

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To London, with Love: For the Man of December

Ivan Lett The nickname l’homme de décembre was given to Napoléon III, largely, it seems, for living in the shadow of his uncle Napoléon I, Emperor of the French. On December 2, 1804, Napoléon I was crowned emperor, changing the political landscape of not only Europe, but the emerging interconnected

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NY Sun: Yale Press books explain and enchant

Writing for the New York Sun, John Merriman reviewed Philip Dwyer’s Napoleon: The Path to Power, finding it “an excellent history and a very good read.” He says that many sections were not only “compelling,” but also finds them pertinent to current militaristic and political events. Read the entire review

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The Year of Cézanne

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the death of artist Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), the celebrated impressionist and one of the founders of the modern movement. The centenary will be commemorated by art exhibitions in Washington, D.C. and in Cézanne’s native Provence. “A bucolic escape from busier ports of call,

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