France: A History from Gaul to de Gaulle
John Julius Norwich
Rating: 5 / 5
In this book John Julius Norwich celebrates his lifetime’s knowledge, love of and gratitude to France. As he acknowledges, there are many more scholarly histories of France available but it’s unlikely that any would be as enjoyable as is this one.
Norwich really knows the country and its eventful past—he tells its story with wit, charm and humanity, always aware of what readers find most interesting. As the history of France is so bound up with Europe’s history, at times he reminds himself not to go too far into the doings of other countries, but inevitably sheds light on those stories too.
Through his politician father, Duff Cooper, Norwich has first-hand insights into France’s life in the Second World War but the immediacy of his style makes all the history equally vivid for the reader. Highly recommended.