Posts Tagged ‘French Revolution’

A History of France

November 3, 2014

A History of France from the Earliest Times to the Treaty of Versailles was originally written for servicemen being deployed to France to fight in World War I who might want to know something of the history of the country. The war ended before the project was completed, so William Sterns Davis took the opportunity to update and expand the book and make it available to the members of the general public to introduce them to the history of the country we had fought alongside. I think this book serves as an admirable introduction to the history of France from the Roman conquest of Gaul down through the medieval period, the Revolution, Napoleon, and the just concluded World War I. Davis does tend to spend more time on the (to him) recent history of France in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries at the expense of earlier centuries, but I ought not to complain. There is still plenty of material on earlier periods and I do not get the impression, as I often do of history books that the author is trying to hurry through the early history of his subject.

This book was written in 1919, well before the age of political correctness and post-modern moral relativism and the tone of Davis’s writing shows it. He does not hesitate to call groups of people barbarians or make moral judgments on the personal lives of kings. I personally find this sort of honesty refreshing, though it can be somewhat jarring, especially in the last two chapters. While discussing France’s recovery from the disaster of the Franco-Prussian War, Davis expounds on France’s acquisition of a colonial empire in Africa and Indochina stressing the great improvements French administration made in the lives of the people of the colonies. That may be, but no one asked of the natives of the colonies wished to be ruled by France.

The chapter on World War I reads like allied propaganda with France defending civilization against the Teutons bent on conquering the world. The Germans are clearly the bad guys throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Treaty of Versailles is represented as just and reasonable with the reparations necessary to repair the damage the Germans did to the French territory they occupied. Perhaps, but I wonder if Davis lived to see the troubles the more onerous provisions of that treaty caused to Europe and France.
In general, the book is strongly pro-France and the author seems to have a real affection for the French people. Anyone who wants a good general overview of French history will find what he is looking for here.

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Demonic

July 28, 2011

Ann Coulter can be called many things; controversial, partisan, pugnacious, acerbic. One thing she never is dull or uninteresting in her writing.  Coulter is a natural polemicist and pulls no punches as she attacks Liberals. Her jabs are always right on target and do not fail to draw blood. Although she writes with a cutting tone, she is able to display a leaven of humor that distinguishes her from mere spewers of bile from the Left and Right.

In her latest work, Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America, Coulter uses  the 1896 book by French sociologist Gustave Le BonThe Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, to explain the actions of Liberals, especially their preference for acting in mobs. This might seem to be her usual partisanship but even a casual observer of politics cannot help but notice that Liberals often form mobs and protest. Conservatives never do. The TEA parties might fairly be called anti-mob s since the participants obeyed the laws and even picked up their trash.

The best part of Demonic is part 2, the Historical Context of the Liberal, in which Ann Coulter gives a brief summary of the French Revolution and contrasts it with the American Revolution, emphasizing the preference of the former’s leaders for mob rule and the latter’s for ordered liberty.

The only fault that I can find with Ann Coulter is that she is sometimes overly simplistic, equating Democrats with Liberals with both being irredeemably bad. For example, in Chapter 12, she relates the history of political violence in America, noting that every presidential assassin has been a Liberal. That is true of Charles Guiteau, Leon Czolgosz, and Lee Harvey Oswald, but it is a stretch for John Wilkes Booth. The Ku Klux Klan was, largely, a Democratic organization, but the men who made up the Klan had a very different viewpoint than most Democrats today.

Still, I highly recommend Demonic to any Conservative who wants to know more about why Liberals act the way they do, or who just wants something fun to read. Liberals with a weak heart should probably avoid reading anything by Ann Coulter.

Bastille Day

July 14, 2011

In France they are celebrating Bastille Day. The day in 1789 when mobs stormed the notorious prison fortress and freed seven confused convicts. I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time. Anyway here’s to France.

I don’t much care for the French, but I have to admit they have a really cool national anthem.


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