Why France?: American Historians Reflect on an Enduring Fascination by Laura Lee DownsWhy France?: American Historians Reflect on an Enduring Fascination by Laura Lee Downs

Why France?: American Historians Reflect on an Enduring Fascination

EditorLaura Lee Downs, Stéphane GersonAfterword byRoger Chartier

Paperback | October 23, 2009

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France has long attracted the attention of many of America's most accomplished historians. The field of French history has been vastly influential in American thought, both within the academy and beyond, regardless of France's standing among U.S. political and cultural elites. Even though other countries, from Britain to China, may have had a greater impact on American history, none has exerted quite the same hold on the American historical imagination, particularly in the post-1945 era.

To gain a fresh perspective on this passionate relationship, Laura Lee Downs and Stéphane Gerson commissioned a diverse array of historians to write autobiographical essays in which they explore their intellectual, political, and personal engagements with France and its past. In addition to the essays, Why France? includes a lengthy introduction by the editors and an afterword by one of France's most distinguished historians, Roger Chartier. Taken together, these essays provide a rich and thought-provoking portrait of France, the Franco-American relationship, and a half-century of American intellectual life, viewed through the lens of the best scholarship on France.

Contributors: Ken Alder, Northwestern University; John W. Baldwin, The Johns Hopkins University; Edward Berenson, New York University; Herrick Chapman, New York University; Roger Chartier, Ècole des Hautes Ètudes en Sciences Sociales; Clare Haru Crowston, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Barbara Diefendorf, Boston University; Laura Lee Downs, Ècole des Hautes Ètudes en Sciences Sociales; Stéphane Gerson, New York University; Jan Goldstein, The University of Chicago; Lynn Hunt, UCLA; Steven Kaplan, Cornell University; Thomas Kselman, Notre Dame University; Herman Lebovics, SUNY Stony Brook; Robert Paxton, Columbia University; Todd Shepard, The Johns Hopkins University; Leonard V. Smith, Oberlin College; Gabrielle Spiegel, The Johns Hopkins University; Tyler Stovall, University of California, Berkeley

Title:Why France?: American Historians Reflect on an Enduring FascinationFormat:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.28 inPublished:October 23, 2009Publisher:Cornell University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801475708

ISBN - 13:9780801475702

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Editorial Reviews

"Why France? is a fascinating, thought-provoking analysis of the combination of factors—ranging through the intellectual vitality of the French people, their rich and sumptuous culture, their democratic aspirations, and their sheer savoir vivre—which seduced sixteen North American historians to commit their lives to studying the French past. One gets the sense that above their individual intentions, they were, to cite Fernand Braudel, as much acted on as actors in their own destinies. France chose them as its critical friends, as much as vice versa. Why France? offers a vibrant and humane example of transnational solidarity and opens onto some of the most pressing of contemporary issues of identity."—Colin Jones, Queen Mary, University of London, author of The Great Nation: France from Louis XV to Napoleon and Paris: Biography of the City