;

French history



  • Why Don't the French Celebrate Lafayette?

    Two new books examine the life and legacy of the Marquis de Lafayette, whose reputation in the United States far exceeds his esteem in his native France. 


  • The Difference a Day Makes: Robespierre's 9 Thermidor

    by Colin Jones

    The eventful 9 Thermidor (July 27, 1794) is seen as a pivotal day for French Revolution. Colin Jones digs deep into the archival documentation of the day and argues that the day's significance is real but misunderstood. 



  • “Essentially an Evil Thing”

    by Jonathan Wilson

    Recent European controversies over the veneration of historical figures have considered war consequentially, as a means of achieving national ends. It's time to think of war, as the Nuremberg judges did, as an intrinsic evil. 



  • France Battles Over Whether to "Cancel" or Celebrate Napoleon

    French President Macron will place a wreath on the former Emperor's tomb to commemorate the bicentennial of his death, as French citizens debate his legacy including his contempt for Republicanism both in independent Haiti and in France itself.



  • Pandemic Lessons From the Era of ‘Les Miserables’

    Medical historian Ed Cohen describes the 1832 cholera outbreak as "imperial blowback," as the disease arrived in Europe from their colonies. Nearly 2% of the city's population died, but the aftermath saw an increase in migration from the countryside and a flourishing of public health-oriented planning. 



  • France Enabled 1994 Rwanda Genocide, Report Says

    A Rwandan government commission has concluded that the government of France supported the leaders of genocide in Rwanda to sustain its own influence. This goes a step beyond a recent French government report that identified French involvement in virulent ethnic politics but not in genocide.



  • Who's Afraid of Antiracism?

    by Chelsea Stieber

    Recent books in different genres shed light on the limits of the French governing ideal of republican universalism for a society where racism is real and historically significant. 



  • Napoleon Isn’t a Hero to Celebrate

    by Marlene Daut

    The veneration of Napoleon on the 200th anniversary of his death reflects a systemic problem in French education, which touts the color-blind universality of French republicanism (which Napoleon destroyed) without acknowedging his policy of attempted genocide in the effort to retake control of Haiti. 



  • Lucky Luke, the Comic Book Cowboy, Discovers Race, Belatedly

    While Emmanuel Macron decries American obsessions with race and prejudice, right-wing French comics readers have reacted with anger to an effort to update the longstanding cowboy-themed comic franchise with heroic Black characters. 



  • Emmanuel Macron’s Socially Constructed Bogeymen

    by Daniel W. Drezner

    What, exactly, "Islamo-leftism" is, and what relationship it could possibly have to American academic theories, are two big questions left unanswered by the French President's attacks on academic ideas. 



  • France’s New Public Enemy: America’s Woke Left

    A body of American critical theory about the nexus of difference and power has proved threatening to a French intellectual elite that is historically invested in the nation's formally color-blind republican traditions even as ethnic and religious diversity exposes the gaps in those traditions. 


  • Notre Dame: The Soul of France (Review)

    by Jeff Roquen

    Agnès Poirier's book describes the central place of the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris in the city and in French history both religious and secular, and the angst provoked by its threatened destruction by fire in 2019.



  • France Knows How This Ends

    by James McAuley

    "What is especially useful to remember about the Dreyfus affair now is the point of no return it represented, the repugnant embrace of lies by one half of society, educated people who were not ignorant but who had simply ceased to care."