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France Since 1871 - Audio

By John Merriman

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(HIST 276) This course covers the emergence of modern France. Topics include the social, economic, and political transformation of France; the impact of France's revolutionary heritage, of industrialization, and of the dislocation wrought by two world wars; and the political response of the Left and the Right to changing French society. This class was recorded in Fall 2007.

Customer Reviews

Decent lectures on France history

Overall it’s ok but teacher sometimes doing strange comments like the one about France football team “who are not french” for someone who saying he is “left” making anti emigrant comments are kinda off.

Great lectures

This class works as a fun, entertaining series of stand alone lectures. If you do the reading, which I did not, it’s must be a pretty comprehensive overview with some interesting in-depth work particularly on Zola and the Resistance. As is, I found that the lectures are perfect companions on long walks—always fluent with a light touch and dozens of interesting asides and stories.

On a deeper level, I went into these lectures with a philosopher’s systematizing and abstract inclinations and a personal experience of frustration with history classes and historians’ desultory interests and methods. In other words, I was a pretty bad history student despite interest in the subject matter. I didn’t fit in. This class was a tonic. Yes, it’s often oblique and anecdotal, but Professor Merriman’s deep love of the subject matter, personal connection to France, and wearing of his hippie heart on his sleeve gave me my first sense of history as a humanistic field. It’s no coincidence that Merriman is especially strong on biography and social movements; he sees history and politics at the human scale in all its contingency, fallibility, dignity, and glorie.


Only 24 lectures? I want more! This is no dry, chronological recitation of events. This is a passionate, detailed and personal account of French history and culture. Some reviewers object to his political point of view. One of the things I love about France is that it is not a social faux pas to admit to having a political opinion. And it is nice to hear someone with a “far left” perspective, although he did not seem so far left to me. There are conservative historians out there. Alistair Horne, for example, who has been called “George Bush’s favorite historian” has written numerous books on French history.

Inspired by this class, I just started reading Merriman’s book on the Paris Commune. Vive la France! Vive la commune!