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on 21 August 2010
That great French icon the Corsican Napoleon Bonaparte once defined history as "a series of lies on which we agree" but is clear from reading this book that while there are plenty of lies told in the history of Anglo-French relations, there is little agreement between them.
Do not be fooled by the journalistic approach, chatty style, and episodes of facetiousness, this is a history book and a good one. It's a comprehensive account of where English (and sometimes Scottish, and later British) and French national histories meet, interact, overlap, or collide. It is well-researched and packed with information while being very readable - I found it a real page-turner, and as someone who reads a lot of history I can say that that's not always the case in this field! For those schooled on the "agreed lies" of history - and there are a lot of them in this area, where national pride plays such a part - it will be an eye-opener.
I wonder what sort of reviews it's getting on the French Amazon site.
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on 14 June 2010
Ive heard rumours of the French's alternative view on history but reading through this book I was struck at how bad it is! That's not to say that this book is an anti-french tirade, because its clearly and constructively written by someone who speaks the langauge and knows the french very well, and knows what he's talking about. Ok, towards the end it turns more into how the french piff off the world and not just the British, but it's still incredibly interesting stuff. History buffs will probably hate the book because it summarises in a few pages what they'd like to explain in 1,000 pages but for people like me that are interested in history but never had the chance to really study it I think it's a godsend. My only partial gripe is that after so much in-depth analysis of early history that last century is rapidly gone through - particularly postwar. Like with Andrew Marr's History of Britain series, it kinds of ignores focusing on our rapid postwar decline as a nation (probably for good reason!) and the reasons behind it.

Definitely a good read and a steal at that price too.
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on 7 March 2011
This book is hilarious. If anybody thought that history was boring, they should read this. The author does actually like France and it is written tongue in cheek, but you can see where he is coming from. Like how the French blame the Brits for the death of Joan of Arc, when it was the French who ensured her downfall etc. I got the kindle version and loved it. This has prompted me to get more of the authors books. It really is laugh oyt lod funny in places, but it historically correct and informative. How about this? If you are a history teacher, give 'em this to try. It will get them interested. Au Revoir !
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on 24 March 2010
Intrigued by the cover and title, I purchased this a few days ago, and am absolutely loving it! It's a very readable, really intersting alternative history of anglo-French relations over the last century, which made me laugh out loud on numerous occasions. It also told me things I had no idea about. Poor Joan of Arc! And who knew that the guillotine was actually invented in Halifax? It is as easy to read as a novel, yet is about stuff that really happened. Highly recommended for everyone who likes France, and who likes to be entertained.
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on 28 June 2013
I lived in France for a few years and found this book a powerful antidote! A leisurely and informally-written look at Anglo-French history and relations. Not, on the other hand, for those looking for a more scholarly appraisal of that eternal football match: Rosbifs v. Crapauds.
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on 25 May 2010
This history book is written in a very entertaining way, but appears to be accurate in its facts. As this is so, the errors and misconceptions that the French have about the English are detailed in a way that make for a gripping read! To be fair, the author does admit the English were sometimes in the wrong . . .
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on 4 June 2012
An ideal book to read curled up on the sofa in front of the fire on a cold night (most nights in the UK)if you're female, or settled on the privy if you're a bloke- except for Oxford dons or donnas, or whatever lady dons are called, who probably wouldn't touch it with a barge pole.
Some reviewers take the Francophobe thing a bit too seriously, and in fact if your school days were spent desperately trying to stay awake during snoozeville school history lessons, this is a pretty good way of tracing Anglo-Saxon (Mr Clarke pulls in the Americans quite a bit)-French relationships over the last millenium, filling many gaps we weren't taught much about, such as colonial and exploration rivalries in far flung corners of the planet, as well as cultural issues ranging from spats over cuisine to fashion. Humour abounds, but the author doesn't skimp on uncomfortable events where Brits or English don't come out well either His affection for France and the French is obvious-after all, don't most of us poke the most fun at our friends?
I have to say there is one tiny thing that does irritate me in this book. When he's dealing with WWII, Mr Clarke refers to German 'Panzer tanks'. 'Panzer' is simply German for 'tank' or 'armoured', so he's actually saying 'tank tank' or 'panzer panzer'. It's either just plain 'tank' or 'panzer'. So there we go, a Brit irritated by something in a book about irritating the French on a matter which has nothing to do with the French at all.
I suppose the acid test is the answers to the questions: would this book enourage me to read further on the subjects he covers, or read one of his other books? The answer is very likely, on both counts.
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on 30 March 2010
Stephen Clarke has come up with a great history of the Real "Special Relationship" that England, then Britain have always had. This book is full of revelations and the witty comments are absolutely top, I intend to take this book on holiday when I go camping in France and read it again beside the pool. I should therefore attract plenty of free beer from Brit campers and intrigued comment freom French campers. Even the Dutch won't be able to escape some fun! To think that they were the original "frogs"!!
The one fault I can find is that Stephen Clarke insists on using the verb "to fire" when talking about English archers "firing arrows". My mother in law is an accomplished longbow archer (Scary thought; I am half-French myself!!) and she and her clubmates would probably remove Mr Clarke's three middle fingers for using the term.
One "shoots" arrows.
That said, I must thank the author for hours of great reading, one of the best light histories I have read.
Interestingly, Jumonville, who let George Washingtron get away with murder (allegedly) was a great times 8 grandfather of mine.
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on 23 March 2010
I know Clarke from his Merde series and am not a big history reader, but this mix of humour and history really works. I highly recommend it.
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on 2 August 2012
I read a lot of history books, but I have to admit that few of them are as entertaining as this one. It is a great, fun to read and well researched summary of Anglo-French relations since the time of William the Conqueror. I was afraid from the title that it would turn into an orgy of one-sided French bashing, but that is not the case. Stephen Clarke is a Francophile and although the book is written to tease French readers, it does so by pointing undeniable historical facts, not by rewriting history or proposing distorted subjective views.

Some books have good passages and slower or more boring parts, but I found this book to be enjoyable from the first page to last last, truly unputdownable.
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