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on 9 April 2003
The innovative organisation of this book is what really distinguishes it from other works. Instead of simply trudging through the historical events in chronological order, each chapter focuses on a particular theme, such as the impact of the war in Algeria, or the treatment of women in French society. Not only does this make the book very entertaining, as it gives the reader a multi faceted look into post war French history which is often absent in other books; it also makes it very easy to read, as each chapter is self contained. The critical viewpoint evident in many places is also welcome, as there are too many books on France written by people who seem to idealise the country and overlook its faults. All in all, an excellent introduction into the subject, and highly recommended for people with a passing interest in modern France.
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on 30 December 2004
To attempt to cover 45 odd years of French history in a short-book is almost foolhardy. Gildea, however, through his planning and preparation is able to offer authority and insight even when dealing with events in brief fashion. For a student of France or for an inquisitive individual wanting to understand more about how the past has shaped the present within the Hexagon this is an excellent digest.
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on 10 September 2003
Really enjoyed this book as it cover all the major events in France after the war. Thankfully it covered not just political events, but the major changes in French culture, prosperity, and attitude (including the special status of their farmers in the national psyche). I really enjoyed reading this book, and would certainly recommend it to anyone curious but not too familiar with the French.
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on 1 March 2013
A swift and detailed history of France by Gildea which tackles the main areas of French history since the end of the Second World War.

Gildea touches on all aspects of France from political and economic concerns through military and diplomatic areas, to covering the impact of French 'identity' on the progress of it's own history. Some very intriguing details on the Vichy regime and how traitors were dealt with in post-war France are one highlight of the book itself. Gildea also goes further in analyzing the role of the 'Resistance' in French history and dismantles the myth of it's 'untouchability'.

However, one of the most entertaining and educational factors of Gildea's work is the emphasis he puts on the role of French identity and the French belief in their own unique contribution to civilization. According to the author, the French have seen themselves as a beacon of liberty and freedom, and this has been severely challenged by their role in their African colonies, especially Algeria. Gildea also centres on the concept of 'assimilation' of non-French immigrants into French society and how this has impacted on the French self-image.

Much more to discover and this is an excellent introduction to anyone interested in France.
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on 13 July 2014
A quick run through of an extensive period. I would have like to read more of the post war rebuilding of France. ( we hear much of D Day but little of rebuilding) . Th early chapters dealing with the Vichy Regime are most interesting .
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on 8 February 2016
A comprehensive, balanced review with a compelling thesis, this is an indispensable work for an understanding of contemporary France from a leading Oxford academic
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on 8 April 2015
informative- easy read
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