Britain's premier historian on France from Caesar to Mitterrand - to coincide with the centenary of the Entente Cordiale
A century after the Entente Cordiale ended centuries of war and enmity between France and Britain, and two hundred years after the coronation of Britain's deadly enemy, Napoleon Bonaparte, as Emperor, Alistair Horne contemplates two thousand years of France.
The Entente Cordiale meant different things to the signatories. For France it meant, quite simply, the certainty at last of an ally who would counter-balance the dread power of Kaiser Wilhelm II's vast and menacing Reich on her doorstep. For Britain the Entente signified an end to centuries of conflict with France, but it also meant inevitable involvement in a major European war.
The modern rift over the Iraq war has emphasized once again that a slim channel of water may be all that separates the countries physically, but in temperament, in attitudes, in life generally -- and, particularly, in history itself -- the differences remain fundamental, and intense.
What's even more impressive is that despite the weight of the subject matter, Horne combines an almost sprightly caper through our Gallic neighbours' history with a serious, informative narrative that covers the milestones in depth... A useful primer, then, for anyone interested in French history. - OBSERVER
This complete history of France takes us from its humble beginnings as a Roman outpost called Lutetia right up to the rift with Britain and America over Iraq in 2003. - GUARDIAN
Alistair Horne was educated at Le Rosey, Switzerland, and Jesus College, Cambridge. He ended his war service with the rank of Captain in the Coldstream Guards attached to MI5 in the Middle East. From 1952 to 1955 he worked as a foreign correspondent for the Daily Telegraph. In 1969 he founded the Alistair Horne research fellowship in modern history, St Antony's, Oxford. His numerous books on history and politics have been translated into over ten languages, he was awarded the Hawthornden prize (for THE PRICE OF GLORY) and the Wolfson prize (for A SAVAGE WAR OF PEACE). In 1992 he was awarded the CBE; in 1993 he received the French Legion d'Honneur for his work on French history and a Litt.D. from Cambridge University. He was knighted in 2003 for services to Franco-British relations.