In celebration of LSUP’s 80th anniversary the staff selected 80 of our most memorable titles. Adding to our “Around the Press in 80 Books” blog series, Editor Neal Novak writes about France and the Après Guerre, 1918–1924.
The history of France just begs for great writers. The characters and plot lines seem ready made for inspired storytellers who can explain the reasons for post-War inflation as easily as they are able to use décolletage accurately in a sentence. Benjamin F. Martin is such a writer, and his book France and the Après Guerre, 1918–1924 explores everything from monetary policy to Parisian drug culture with a deftness that makes writing history look easy.
That was my assessment upon reading Martin’s book for the first time in the fall of 2001. Not long after, I decided to apply to LSU so I could study modern France with Martin as my advisor. Under his guidance I quickly learned if I was committed to spending hours researching primary documents on microfiche—and clearly I was—I would also have to sharpen my writing skills if I were to succeed.
Ultimately, I chose to focus my study on the problems of succession in post–de Gaulle France, not on the interwar years as Martin does here. Yet I always kept in mind my first impressions of France and the Après Guerre: great research deserves great writing. So grab a dictionary if you are still interested in the definition of décolletage. Then pick up France and the Après Guerre for history written with as much clarity as color.
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