History of France Publication date : August 29, 2018
Marc Ferro is Director of Studies in Social Sciences at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales. He is notably the author of La Révolution de 1917 [October 1917 : a social history of the Russian revolution], La Grande Guerre [The Great War, 1914-1918], Cinéma et Histoire [Cinema and History], Pétain, and L’Histoire des colonisations [Colonization: A Global History].
Yes, History is a force, just as there are economic forces or religious beliefs: they have an active effect on society. But what kind of History are we talking about? The heroic history of the Bourgeois of Calais, the tragic history of Saint-Barthelemy, or of the Paris Commune, the glorious – or shameful – history for a given episode in the past, but which covers how many myths, quarrels, silences and lies… But there is another, more anonymous, history. That of the inhabitants of France, so similar yet so unlike their neighbors, at work and at home, and so prone to civil war… How can these characteristics, these differences be explained? Marc Ferro here confronts an analysis of French society with the events in its history: isn’t this fulfilling the former dream of Fernand Braudel?
Today, when the sovereignty of the nation-State is being challenged, it is critical to revisit the history of this country to better understand how it has been experienced and how it can be analyzed today.