Tag French history

Stepping Back from the Front

Louis Barthas; Translated by Edward M. Strauss— In March 1918, after more than forty months on the front lines, under daily threat of violent death, disease, or dismemberment, French infantry corporal Louis Barthas succumbs to exhaustion and earns an evacuation order from a cynical, reluctant medical officer. He’s shunted out

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Louis Barthas: Eyewitness to the French Army Mutinies, May-June 1917

Edward M. Strauss— “On May 26 [1917] the first American combat troops arrived in France…. “The arrival of the first American troops coincided with a dramatic change on the French sector of the Western Front, where the growing number of desertions turned, on May 27, to mutiny.  At the Front

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Happy Birthday, Louis Barthas!

Louis Barthas; Translated by Edward M. Strauss— Poilu author Louis Barthas was born on Bastille Day, July 14, 1879. In honor of his 137th birthday, here are two letters that Barthas wrote in 1916 to Pierre Brizon, a Socialist member of the French legislature. One asks for the deputy’s help

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A Volcano in Constant Eruption: Surviving the Hell of Verdun

One hundred years ago, in May 1916, the costliest, bloodiest battle of World War I’s Western Front – Verdun – had raged for three months without slackening. French and German troops marched resignedly into what they cursed as “The Furnace.”  300,000 lives would be lost in the 300-day ordeal. One

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The Life of Louis Barthas

Louis Barthas kept vivid journals of his service as a French corporal in World War I. In honor of his birthday today, July 14th (which is also Bastille Day!), the following is an excerpt from the 1978 introduction to Poilu, his collected notebooks. Rémy Cazals— Louis Barthas was born on

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Celebrating the Centennial of Swann’s Way, by Marcel Proust

Visit the Proust-Ink website for more centennial news and events from Bill Carter! William C. Carter — With today’s centennial date, November 14, of the original publication of Swann’s Way, I thought I would share some of my thoughts about this important literary event. What we are celebrating, of course, is

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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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