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At the beginning of 1778, Franz-Anton Mesmer arrived in Paris where he set about expounding his rather exotic theory - that the universe was swimming in a fluid which was responsible for occurences such heat, light, electricity and magnetism, but it was this fluid's relevance to medicine which he wished to highlight. In order to restablish health and man's harmony with nature he undertook strange healing sessions which became the origins of an extraordinary craze. Quickly, mesmerism became a disguised political theory. In demonstrating the links of mesmerism to politics, and the scientific notions of the age, Robert Darnton provides in this work a decisive contribution to the study of the diffusion of ideas in French society at the end of the 18th century. Robert Darnton is a professor at the University of Princeton
Fernand Braudel is considered as one of the major historians of the XXth century. Making his stand against factual history, he was one of the founders of the triumph of new history: the history of human societies rooted in their geographical space and obstinately determined to produce their material civilization there. This biography takes its strength from friendly conversations between Braudel and Giuliana Gemelli, who because she is Italian, had the necessary distance to make a demanding quest.
How can the dynamism of modern Asia be explained ? Is there a unified Asian identity which could point to subsequent unification ? What is the role of the State, and the future of democracy in Asia ? François Godement presents one of the first major histories of the contemporary Far East in which he not only traces the recent history of the continent, but also reveals the future for occidental societies. François Godement is a professor at the Institute of Eastern Languages and head of research at the French Institute for International Relations.