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French history



  • To Save la République, Macron Can't Ignore the Left

    by Moshik Temkin

    Macron's centrist strategy in the face of a rising far right is dangerous, but reflects the long turn to the center by the Socialist Party. Can he expect left-leaning constituencies to once again vote to save France from fascism while getting nothing in return? 



  • In Zemmour, France's Old Bigotry Finds New Voice

    by Mitchell Abidor and Miguel Lago

    Presidential candidate Éric Zemmour's Jewishness should not be a shield for his manipulation of France's historical bigotries for political gain.



  • Why Don't the French Celebrate Lafayette?

    Two new books examine the life and legacy of the Marquis de Lafayette, whose reputation in the United States far exceeds his esteem in his native France. 


  • The Difference a Day Makes: Robespierre's 9 Thermidor

    by Colin Jones

    The eventful 9 Thermidor (July 27, 1794) is seen as a pivotal day for French Revolution. Colin Jones digs deep into the archival documentation of the day and argues that the day's significance is real but misunderstood. 



  • “Essentially an Evil Thing”

    by Jonathan Wilson

    Recent European controversies over the veneration of historical figures have considered war consequentially, as a means of achieving national ends. It's time to think of war, as the Nuremberg judges did, as an intrinsic evil. 



  • France Battles Over Whether to "Cancel" or Celebrate Napoleon

    French President Macron will place a wreath on the former Emperor's tomb to commemorate the bicentennial of his death, as French citizens debate his legacy including his contempt for Republicanism both in independent Haiti and in France itself.



  • Pandemic Lessons From the Era of ‘Les Miserables’

    Medical historian Ed Cohen describes the 1832 cholera outbreak as "imperial blowback," as the disease arrived in Europe from their colonies. Nearly 2% of the city's population died, but the aftermath saw an increase in migration from the countryside and a flourishing of public health-oriented planning. 



  • France Enabled 1994 Rwanda Genocide, Report Says

    A Rwandan government commission has concluded that the government of France supported the leaders of genocide in Rwanda to sustain its own influence. This goes a step beyond a recent French government report that identified French involvement in virulent ethnic politics but not in genocide.



  • Who's Afraid of Antiracism?

    by Chelsea Stieber

    Recent books in different genres shed light on the limits of the French governing ideal of republican universalism for a society where racism is real and historically significant. 



  • Napoleon Isn’t a Hero to Celebrate

    by Marlene Daut

    The veneration of Napoleon on the 200th anniversary of his death reflects a systemic problem in French education, which touts the color-blind universality of French republicanism (which Napoleon destroyed) without acknowedging his policy of attempted genocide in the effort to retake control of Haiti. 



  • Lucky Luke, the Comic Book Cowboy, Discovers Race, Belatedly

    While Emmanuel Macron decries American obsessions with race and prejudice, right-wing French comics readers have reacted with anger to an effort to update the longstanding cowboy-themed comic franchise with heroic Black characters.