Free delivery on qualified orders. If you're a seller, Fulfilment by Amazon can help you grow your business. We learn how France was explored, charted, and colonized, and how the imperial influence of Paris was gradually extended throughout a kingdom of isolated towns and villages. It is possibly the best piece of social history I've ever read. This is one of my favorite books ever. Graham Robb knows a lot of France as well as knowing a lot about France. One pictures chimney sweeps learning broom fu or masons learning ancient mysteries of combat with the trowel. My takeaway from this book is that there is more to France than Paris. This is to French history very much like what British tabloids are to journalism: implicit or explicit generalizations from a collection of out of context senstionalist anecdotes, with a nearly total disregard for established facts and statistics. This is a history of how all the little pays in France became one country. On my most recent trip to France, my friends and I decided to spend our last night in Tours at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant-- where one could get home-cooked meal. The process of unification was in fact much messier, and bringing order out of chaos, sometimes by economic manipulation, sometimes by force, was a long and fraught process. Why do all of the main train lines go through Paris (if you ever tried to map an east-west route, no matter what you try, you end up going though Paris) and why in the bloody hell it doesn't have one main station? Little more than a hundred and fifty years ago, the vast majority of the 'French' were quite unaware that they were French at all, did not speak the French language and had never travelled outside their region. It is clear to me that Robbs with this book wanted to offer a correction on the image that the French put up of themselves as a nation that already in the 18th century laid the foundations of modernity, that during and after the French revolution this modernity penetrated in all sections of French society, and at the same time France spread this light of modernity across the world. This is a very nteresting book, but it is not at all how I imagined it after reading the Barnes & Nobles review. Welcome back. The Discovery of France, illuminating, engrossing and full of surprises, is the result of Robb's 14,000 mile journey across France on a bicycle. Three point five stars, really, because I have the same sort of love/irritation with this book that Robb himself seems to feel for France. The book does NOT systematicly study different regions. The facts presented in the book do NOT seem to be collected from the author's extensive bicycling throughout France, but rather reaped from extensive library research. These four years have proven to be productive, because there is a vast number of themes passing by. Brilliant. Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 13, 2020. Hardcover in English - 1st American Ed edition. In the South OC was the main language next to Basque, Catalan, Corsican and Gallo Italian. French itself was a minority language.Graham Robb describes that unknown world in arresting narrative detail. Not the France that we usually know with its Sun Kings, enlightened Philosophers and Corsican emperors, but quite the contrary of it: the closed village communities, with their incomprehensible dialects, their superstition and their distrust of all what was strange, and with their precarious survival economy. It is the result of the author's discovery of France on bicycle and in the archives (but not both at the same time I hasten to add to reassure any anxious library lovers). Where the dogs trained other dogs how to use it? The accepted version of modern French history relies on a linear story of gradual and natural centralisation: the organic creation of a nation conceived of, in its essential form several hundreds of years ago, and striving ever since towards its own self-realisation. This is one of those rare books that is both informative and entertaining. Prime members enjoy Free Two-Day Shipping, Free Same-Day or One-Day Delivery to select areas, Prime Video, Prime Music, Prime Reading, and more. Above all, it shows how much of France—past and present—remains to be discovered. Robb's theory, so far as I can see it, turns on the notion that in the process of discovery one eventually knows destruction as well. The way distance shifted between eras and technologies, the way food and work and money functioned or didn't in this vast landscape before the state came along to make sense of them, the oddness and diversity of the way people moved and lived before, well, more practical universal solutions became available. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. Winner of both the Duff Cooper and the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje prizes, The Discovery of France is a modern non-fiction classic, a literary exploration of a remarkable nation. Later French tourists followed, and still the countryside is depended on Europeans coming to see the ‘local’ specialities. Find all the books, read about the author and more. This is a very nteresting book, but it is not at all how I imagined it after reading the Barnes & Nobles review. He. Francophile that I am, I will never see France quite the same way after having read Robb's fascinating historical geography (or geographical history)of France up to WWI. As true as that is today, it was even more the case in earlier times, when in vast regions people spoke in Basque, Breton, Catalan, Alsatian, Flemish, and other non-French languages and had no concept of living in a country called France. Read The Discovery of France – A Historical Geography book reviews & author details and more at Amazon.in. French itself was a minority language. I guess that means the writing was good! Above all, it shows how much of France—past and present—remains to be discovered. 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