Jason Koivu's Reviews > A Brief History of France

A Brief History of France by Cecil Jenkins
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I'm too damn familiar with British history, I told myself recently. Time to branch out!...My branch didn't stretch too far.

The histories of France and England are deeply entwined (which always seemed odd to me considering how very different are their people, language, food, etc), so reading about France's history wasn't exactly like taking a trip to another galaxy. Since declaring nationhood, their almost constant warring would always insure some old familiar atrocity to ground my sense of time and place.

With that kind of background knowledge in place, I wasn't looking for any especially thorough or comprehensive history on France and that's just what I got in A Brief History of France. Very brief. Not particularly thorough. That's all right! There's a place, time and person for this kind of history-quickie and I'm it!

The real problem with this book revealed itself fairly early. It's uneven. In chapter one, within a few slim pages, we get the entirety of human civilization in the French region summed up in the quick mention of some cave paintings recently discovered. There ya go, a nice tidy summation of a couple million years. Then it jumps directly into Roman Gaul with a page or so on Julius Caesar and Vercingetorix. With the whole Roman Empire and its rule over Gaul taken care of, we now move into Medieval France, where Charlemagne and the early chivalric knights roamed. And all those hundreds and thousands of years are, not only lumped in with all of prehistory, but it's all jammed together in one twenty page chapter. I was a little miffed, so I flipped ahead and discovered that the period after the second world war up to the present, approximately 70 years worth, takes up 100 pages and an entire third of the whole book! So yeah, as I said, this is uneven.

Another issue, and it's minor, is the casual tone. I don't think I've ever read a history text before that referred to a historical figure in terms of their "bitchiness".

War, huh yeah, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing, you say Edwin Starr? Wrong! War is good for history books. That shit really fills the pages! It's all over this mother. I suppose that's not Cecil Jenkins' fault. I blame the French.
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Reading Progress

September 19, 2015 – Shelved
September 28, 2015 – Started Reading
November 12, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-7 of 7 (7 new)

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message 1: by Steve (new)

Steve From many of the Brits and French I know, the branch between the two is meant to be plenty long.

Now I'm curious to know who the "bitchy" figure was.

Another great review, Jason.


Jason Koivu Steve wrote: "From many of the Brits and French I know, the branch between the two is meant to be plenty long.

Now I'm curious to know who the "bitchy" figure was.

Another great review, Jason."


Thanks Steve! I can't remember who the bitchy one was and I don't have the book with me anymore. It was a surprising adjective to find in a history book, I'll tell you that much!


message 3: by carol. (new)

carol. "War, huh yeah, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing, you say Edwin Starr? Wrong! War is good for history books. That shit really fills the pages! It's all over this mother."

You make me laugh.


Jason Koivu Carol. wrote: ""War, huh yeah, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing, you say Edwin Starr? Wrong! War is good for history books. That shit really fills the pages! It's all over this mother."

You make me laugh."


I do what I can with what little a have.


message 5: by Stacie (new)

Stacie Adams Do you have a recommendation on a book of French history? I just recent read crown and Country by D. Starkey and was looking for something similar for both France and Italy!


message 6: by Stacie (new)

Stacie Adams *recently


Jason Koivu Stacie wrote: "Do you have a recommendation on a book of French history? I just recent read crown and Country by D. Starkey and was looking for something similar for both France and Italy!"

I'm afraid I don't right now.


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