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Eugen Weber, 10 March 1994

Seducing the French: The Dilemma of Americanisation 
by Richard Kuisel.
California, 309 pp., £20, April 1993, 0 520 07962 0
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... Good Americans go to Paris when they die, but good Americans have always been few in number, so for a long time their impact on France was slight even when they were dead. ‘Who reads an American book, or goes to an American play, or looks at an American picture ...?’ asked Baudelaire, perhaps echoing Tocqueville, with his premonition that the wonders and vulgarities of democracy in America were what awaited Europe ...

‘You have to hang on’

Eugen Weber: Mihail Sebastian, 15 November 2001

Journal 1935-44 
by Mihail Sebastian, translated by Patrick Camiller.
Heinemann, 641 pp., £20, September 2001, 0 434 88577 0
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... were less sanitary; and Jews, as so often happens, were the first to pay the bill. 26 March 1941: Eugen Ionescu (the playwright Ionesco), ‘desperate, hunted, obsessed’, can’t bear the thought that he may be barred from teaching: ‘not even the name Ionescu, nor an indisputably Romanian father, nor the fact that he was born a Christian . . . can hide ...

Hitting and running

Eugen Weber, 10 June 1993

In Search of the Maquis: Rural Resistance in Southern France, 1942-1944 
by H.R. Kedward.
Oxford, 342 pp., £35, March 1993, 0 19 821931 8
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Outwitting the Gestapo 
by Lucie Aubrac, translated by Konrad Bieber and Betsy Wing.
Nebraska, 235 pp., $25, June 1993, 0 8032 1029 9
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... After the Second World War was over, 220,000 cards were distributed among French citizens to attest that their bearers had been Voluntary Resistance Fighters. Yet André Malraux, talking to Sanche de Gramont in 1970, asserted that ‘we’ Resistants were 17,000, while ‘they’ – French members of the Waffen SS – were 40,000. That begs a question to which I know no answer, though Malraux’s own story may provide some clues ...

Male Fantasies

Eugen Weber, 10 January 1983

Love, Death and Money in the Pays d’Oc 
by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Scolar, 608 pp., £17.50, October 1982, 0 85967 655 2
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... Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie is probably the cleverest and certainly the most versatile French historian of our day. Beginning with his thèse on the peasants of Languedoc in Early Modern times, he has ranged back to the everyday life of 14th-century heretics and forward to computers studies of 19th-century conscripts. His secondary thesis dealt with the weather since the year 1000 ...

Beyond Paris

Richard Cobb, 27 June 1991

My France: Politics, Culture, Myth 
by Eugen Weber.
Harvard, 412 pp., £19.95, February 1991, 0 674 59575 0
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... Eugen Weber is the leading American historian of the French Right in the period 1890 to 1914. He is also the author of a brilliant study of the growth of a national identity among the rural population of France in the second half of the 19th century and up to the outbreak of the First World War. As befits the personal angle to the main title of the present collection, the author opens with a charming account of his own haphazard course from Bucharest and other places in Romania, via Paris in the late Thirties, to a period in an unnamed English public school in the early Forties, service in the infantry of the British Army in the later stages of the Second World War, and then to graduate work at Cambridge where he nearly became a Medievalist ...

How to Write It

Sanjay Subrahmanyam: India after Independence, 20 September 2007

India after Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy 
by Ramachandra Guha.
Macmillan, 900 pp., £25, April 2007, 978 0 230 01654 5
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The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence and India’s Future 
by Martha Nussbaum.
Belknap, 403 pp., £19.95, June 2007, 978 0 674 02482 3
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... It may seem perverse to begin an essay on India by invoking a historian of France: Eugen Weber, who died this year, a colleague of mine and a formidable presence at UCLA. He wrote a book in 1976 on how France became a proper nation by transforming ‘peasants into Frenchmen’. But the Weber I knew, and bantered with during the last years of his life, also had an Indian past of which he felt periodically obliged to speak, though he spoke of it to me with discomfort ...


Bonnie Smith, 21 May 1987

Journal of My Life 
by Jacques-Louis Ménétra, edited by Daniel Roche, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Columbia, 368 pp., $30, July 1986, 0 231 06128 5
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Disease and Civilisation: The Cholera in Paris, 1832 
by François Delaporte, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
MIT, 250 pp., £22.50, July 1986, 0 262 04084 0
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France: Fin de Siècle 
by Eugen Weber.
Harvard, 294 pp., £16.94, October 1986, 0 674 31812 9
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... it seemed so wicked that the family discussed it for days. Where Delaporte sees discourse, Eugene Weber describes material existence. Weber saturates his narrative with all those consumer goods industrial society now concentrated on producing: cycles – uni-, bi- and tri-; footballs, pasteurised milk, omnibuses, lavatory ...

The Revolution is over

R.W. Johnson, 16 February 1989

The Permanent Revolution: The French Revolution and its Legacy 1789-1989 
edited by Geoffrey Best.
Fontana, 241 pp., £4.95, November 1988, 0 00 686056 7
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... Eugen Weber, who contributes one of the essays to this interesting collection, writes of the way the Revolution became a national obsession in 19th-century France. The reason was, at least in part, that throughout the century the threat – or indeed the reality – of violent political change was never off the agenda ...


David Garrioch: Making peasants into Frenchmen, 3 November 2005

The Abbé Grégoire and the French Revolution: The Making of Modern Universalism 
by Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall.
California, 341 pp., £35.95, April 2005, 0 520 24180 0
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... mustn’t be confused with a Bordeaux. Much of France’s 19th and 20th-century history was, as Eugen Weber put it, about making ‘peasants into Frenchmen’, about creating national unity around one language, one history, one set of national symbols. French imperial policy worked the same way, stressing the cultural assimilation of the colonies to ...

Kill a Pig, roast a Prussian

Michael Burns, 19 November 1992

The Village of Cannibals: Rage and Murder in France, 1870 
by Alain Corbin, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Polity, 164 pp., £25, July 1992, 0 7456 0895 7
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... and his body incinerated, the mob boasted of having ‘roasted a Prussian’. In Périgord, Eugen Weber has written, ‘to kill on such and such a day’ meant a feast would follow: ‘to kill meant to kill a pig.’ Habits of animal slaughter gave shape to the attack, and habits of drink gave it licence. Wary, perhaps, of echoing the prejudices of ...


Malcolm Bull: Three Cheers for Apocalypse, 9 December 1999

Conversations about the End of Time 
by Umberto Eco and Stephen Jay Gould.
Allen Lane, 228 pp., £14.99, September 1999, 0 7139 9363 4
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Apocalypses: Prophesies, Cults and Millennial Beliefs throughout the Ages 
by Eugen Weber.
Hutchinson, 294 pp., £18.99, July 1999, 0 09 180134 6
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Messianic Revolution: Radical Religious Politics to the End of the Second Millennium 
by Richard Popkin and David Katz.
Allen Lane, 303 pp., £18.99, October 1999, 0 7139 9383 9
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... behind them is remarkably uniform. It is perhaps best illustrated by the circumstances behind Eugen Weber’s book. Invited by the University of Toronto to deliver a special lecture about fins de siècle, he soon discovered that there was not much to say. Centuries were an early modern invention, and it was only the end of the 19th that had attracted ...

Violets in Their Lapels

David A. Bell: Bonapartism, 23 June 2005

The Legend of Napoleon 
by Sudhir Hazareesingh.
Granta, 336 pp., £20, August 2004, 1 86207 667 7
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The Retreat 
by Patrick Rambaud, translated by William Hobson.
Picador, 320 pp., £7.99, June 2005, 0 330 48901 1
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Napoleon: The Eternal Man of St Helena 
by Max Gallo, translated by William Hobson.
Macmillan, 320 pp., £10.99, April 2005, 0 333 90798 1
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The Saint-Napoleon: Celebrations of Sovereignty in 19th-Century France 
by Sudhir Hazareesingh.
Harvard, 307 pp., £32.95, May 2004, 0 674 01341 7
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Napoleon and the British 
by Stuart Semmel.
Yale, 354 pp., £25, September 2004, 0 300 09001 3
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... languages or dialects in preference to standard French) into a nation. In the famous phrase of Eugen Weber, only after 1871 did the Third Republic, and economic modernisation, turn ‘peasants into Frenchmen’. From this point of view, one would expect the Second Empire’s celebrations of the Saint-Napoléon holiday to have been sad affairs: dreary ...

Schumpeter the Superior

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 27 February 1992

Joseph Schumpeter: His Life and Work 
by Richard Swedberg.
Polity, 293 pp., £35, November 1991, 0 7456 0792 6
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Joseph Schumpeter: Scholar, Teacher and Politician 
by Eduard März.
Yale, 204 pp., £22.50, November 1991, 0 300 03876 3
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... But of course, ‘we do all like a sparkling error better than a trivial truth.’ He caused Max Weber to storm out of a coffee-house in Vienna in 1919 by saying that he welcomed the revolution in Russia. Weber insisted that it would lead to unparalleled misery and end in catastrophe. ‘Quite likely,’ replied ...

The Trouble with Publishers

Fritz Stern, 19 September 1996

The Nietzsche Canon: A Publication History and Bibliography 
by William Schaberg.
Chicago, 297 pp., £29.95, March 1996, 0 226 73575 3
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... publishing on behalf of Germany’s growing number of anti-semitic authors, including the work of Eugen Dühring, controversial political economist (see Engels’s Anti-Dühring) and self-proclaimed ‘founder’ of anti-semitism. Schmeitzner procrastinated over publications and payments, and in April 1884 Nietzsche wrote to his close friend Franz ...

The Knock at the Door

Philip Clark: The Complete Mozart, 8 February 2018

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: The New Complete Edition 
Universal Classics, £275, October 2016Show More
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... by privileging performances by Brüggen, Gardiner and Pinnock over Karl Böhm, George Szell and Eugen Jochum, pillars of the Austro-German tradition whose interpretations are now discreetly tucked away as ‘supplementary’ performances, historical oddities. Böhm never gets the notes wrong, but his orchestral plod suffocates Mozart’s supple, pliant ...

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