A sweeping tour of French history from the 17th century to the present day from the highly acclaimed author of The German Genius
‘Majestic, ambitious . . . [Peter Watson] deserves admiration for the grace and agility with which he interlinks the development of a vigorous cultural identity and the seismic shifts of French national history, continually lurching between triumph and disaster. Impressive enough in its scope, authority and sprightliness to leave us wondering whether a French writer could have managed the task quite as deftly’ - Literary Review
‘An encyclopaedic celebration of French intellectuals refusing to give up on universal principles . . . while remaining slim, bringing up well-behaved children and falling in love at every opportunity’ - The Times
‘He unfurls his intellectual history in the form of vivid biographies . . . [an] engaging movement through time towards France’s recent reckonings with extremism, exceptionalism and empire’ - TLS
‘A love of France radiates from this book’ - Financial Times
About the Author
Peter Watson was born in 1943 and was educated at universities in Durham, London and Rome. He has been on the staff of the Sunday Times and The Times, and has written for many other newspapers. He is the author of over a dozen books including Ideas: A History from Fire to Freud. He lives in London.