Robert Tombs is Professor of History at Cambridge University. His acclaimed book That Sweet Enemy: The French and the British from the Sun King to the Present was published in 2006. He is one of the leading scholars of Anglo-French relations.
The English, Robert Tombs writes in his 'Prelude' to this landmark book, have acquired ancestors by legend, conquest and migration . Here, in a single volume for the first time in ninety years, is a fresh, completely up to date account of the long history of an island and its peoples; of its conquerors, kings and queens; of the social, the political and the cultural; of the mythological and the legendary, and of the extraordinarily true. This is the history of the English, and of how the stories they have told about themselves have shaped them.
The Paris Commune was the biggest and last popular revolution in western Europe - ending the cycle of revolutions that started in 1789. The Parisians, reeling from defeat in the Franco-Prussian War set up their own revolutionary administration. Government troops eventually retook the city and took a terrible revenge: thousands died in the bloodbath that followed. The short-lived Commune and its repression cast a long shadow. It exposed deep divisions in French society and became a potent inspiration for the radical left. This stirring new study written with great zest, and a vivid sense of time and place lets the reader experience these tumultuous events at first hand and provides a comprehensive synthesis of recent research in both French and English.
Here is an incomparably rich portrait of France in the years when the disparate elements that made up the fragmented kingdom of the ancien regime were forged into the modern nation. The survey begins with an exploration of national obsessions and attitudes. It considers the tendency to revolution and war, the preoccupation with the idea of a New Order and the deep strain of national paranoia that was to be intensified by the dramatic debacle of the Franco-Prussian War. Robert Tombs then investigates the structures of power and in Part Three he turns his attention to social identities, from the individual and family to the nation at large. When every aspect of the period has been put under the microscope, Robert Tombs draws them all into the broad political narrative that brings the book to its rousing conclusion. Bursting with life as well as learning, this is, quite simply, a tour de force.
In The English and their History, the first full-length account to appear in one volume for many decades, Robert Tombs gives us the history of the English people, and of how the stories they have told about themselves have shaped them, from the prehistoric 'dreamtime' through to the present day If a nation is a group of people with a sense of kinship, a political identity and representative institutions, then the English have a claim to be the oldest nation in the world. They first came into existence as an idea, before they had a common ruler and before the country they lived in even had a name. They have lasted as a recognizable entity ever since, and their defining national institutions can be traced back to the earliest years of their history. The English have come a long way from those precarious days of invasion and conquest, with many spectacular changes of fortune. Their political, economic and cultural contacts have left traces for good and ill across the world. This book describes their history and its meanings from their beginnings in the monasteries of Northumbria and the wetlands of Wessex to the cosmopolitan energy of today's England. Robert Tombs draws out important threads running through the story, including participatory government, language, law, religion, the land and the sea, and ever-changing relations with other peoples. Not the least of these connections are the ways the English have understood their own history, have argued about it, forgotten it, and yet been shaped by it. These diverse and sometimes conflicting understandings are an inherent part of their identity. Rather to their surprise, as ties within the United Kingdom loosen, the English are suddenly beginning a new period in their long history. Especially at times of change, history can help us to think about the sort of people we are and wish to be. This book, the first single-volume work on this scale for more than half a century, and which incorporates a wealth of recent scholarship, presents a challenging modern account of this immense and continuing story, bringing out the strength and resilience of English government, the deep patterns of division, and yet also the persistent capacity to come together in the face of danger.
From Blenheim and Waterloo to 'Up Yours, Delors' and 'Hop Off You Frogs', the cross-Channel relationship has been one of rivalry, misapprehension and suspicion. But it has also been a relationship of envy, admiration and affection. In the nearly two centuries since the final defeat of Napoleon, France and Britain have spent much of that time as allies - an alliance that has been almost as uneasy, as competitive and as ambivalent as the generations of warfare. Their rivalry both on peace and war, for good and ill, has shaped the modern world, from North America to India in the eighteenth century, in Africa, the Middle East and South East Asia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and it is still shaping Europe today. This magisterial book, by turns provocative and delightful, always fascinating, tells the rich and complex story of the relationship over three centuries, from the beginning of the great struggle for mastery during the reign of Louis XIV to the second Iraq War and the latest enlargement of the EU. It tells of wars and battles, ententes and alliances, but also of food, fashion, sport, literature, sex and music. Its cast ranges from William and Mary to Tony Blair, from Voltaire to Eric Cantona; its sources from ambassadorial dispatches to police reports, from works of philosophy to tabloid newspapers, from guidebooks to cartoons and films. It's a book which brings both British humour and Gallic panache to the story of these two countries, in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer, in victory and in defeat, in dominance and in decline.
Leading international historians examine the impact of nationhood and nationalism on French life. World-renowned contributors (many publishing for the first time in English), include Eugene Weber, Zeev Sternill, Pierre Sorlin and Jean-Claude Allain.
The Paris Commune of 1871 is one of the great romantic failures in revolutionary history. Yet very little is known about its enemies, and especially the army, which first fraternized with the revolutionaries and then, two months later, crushed them with the utmost violence. This book, based on extensive archival research, is the first serious study of the role of the army in the civil war. It examines its composition and organization, its weaknesses and their effect on government policy, the steps taken to improve morale and discipline, the state of mind of officers and men and, finally, the conduct of the army in battle and the causes of the final bloodshed, in which about 20,000 Parisians were killed in the fighting or executed afterwards. Its purpose is to cast new light on the policy of the government and the problems of using an army in a civil war, and to tell for the first time the full tragedy of the suppression of the Comune, one of the bloodiest and least understood social conflicts in the history of modern Europe.