History in Review
France 1814 - 1940
By J. P. T. Bury. Introduction by Robert Tombs. (Routledge, London and New York: 2003. Pg. 337. Maps.) ISBN: 0-415-31600-6.
Reviewed by Leo Johnston - October 27, 2003
John Patrick Tuer Bury's France 1814 - 1940 is a superb example of historic scholarship. Originally published in 1949, this book is as relevant today as it was when first published. This work is perfect for the general reader wanting to learn about a pivotal period in French history. It can also be used effectively as an introductory text in university classes on modern French history, and by students desirous of a one volume, English language, reference guide on this period.
Bury's narrative style is candid and droll, and throughout, eminently readable. France 1814 - 1940 follows a chronological format, beginning with the first restoration of the Bourbon monarchy and concluding with the fall of the Third Republic. Other major events covered included the Second Restoration, the reign of Charles X, the Second Republic, the Franco-Prussian War, the establishment of the Third Republic, France during the Great War (World War I), and the economic slump of 1929.
France 1814 - 1940 is, by its very nature, an introductory text to this period in French history. As such, it serves as an excellent stepping stone to more in-depth study in the field. Each chapter in this book concludes with a set of endnotes and a relevant bibliography. The book also contains a general bibliography, which lists books that are broader in nature than those listed after each chapter. These bibliographies are invaluable to anyone seeking to further their understanding of this period. The majority of the bibliographic entries are of works written in French, nonetheless there are sufficient works, in English, listed to engage interested readers who lack the French language.
Bury was an excellent scholar, and France 1814 - 1940 remains an influential and respected work of historical importance that should be read by all students interested in French and European history. I also highly recommend this book to general readers, both for its content and for its graceful narrative style.
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