The French Century
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Authoritative and entertaining, this richly illustrated chronological survey traces the achievements of 20th-century France in politics, science, sport and the arts. Nor does it flinch from the darker aspects of the nation's history: defeat and occupation in the Second World War, colonial wars in Algeria and Indochina and, more recently, riots in the banlieues and the rise of the far right. From Peugeot to Piaf, from Barthes to Barthez, it brilliantly encapsulates what makes the French so distinctively French.