Book cover of The Dark Queens: The Bloody Rivalry That Forged the Medieval World by Shelley Puhak
Biography & Autobiography

The Dark Queens: The Bloody Rivalry That Forged the Medieval World 

The remarkable, little-known story of two trailblazing women in the Early Middle Ages who wielded immense power, only to be vilified for daring to rule.

Brunhild was a foreign princess, raised to be married off for the sake of alliance-building. Her sister-in-law Fredegund started out as a lowly palace slave. And yet-in sixth-century Merovingian France, where women were excluded from noble succession and royal politics was a blood sport-these two iron-willed strategists reigned over vast realms, changing the face of Europe. […Learn More]

Book cover of Napolean: Soldier of Destiny by Michael Broers
Biography & Autobiography

Napoleon: Soldier of Destiny

All previous lives of Napoleon have relied more on the memoirs of others than on his own uncensored words. This is the first life of Napoleon, in any language, that makes full use of his newly released personal correspondence compiled by the Napoléon Foundation in Paris. All previous lives of Napoleon have relied more on the memoirs of others than on his own uncensored words.Michael Broers’ biography draws on the thoughts of Napoleon himself as his incomparable life unfolded. […Learn More]

Book cover of Agent Josephine: American Beauty, French Hero, British Spy by Damien Lewis
Biography & Autobiography

Agent Josephine: American Beauty, French Hero, British Spy

Singer. Actress. Beauty. Spy. During WWII, Josephine Baker, the world’s richest and most glamorous entertainer, was an Allied spy in Occupied France. 

Prior to World War II, Josephine Baker was a music-hall diva renowned for her singing and dancing, her beauty and sexuality; she was the highest-paid female performer in Europe. […Learn More]

Book cover of In the Forest of No Joy: The Congo-Océan Railroad and the Tragedy of French Colonialism by J. P. Daughton
Africa

In the Forest of No Joy: The Congo-Océan Railroad and the Tragedy of French Colonialism

The epic story of the Congo-Océan railroad and the human costs and contradictions of modern empire.

The Congo-Océan railroad stretches across the Republic of Congo from Brazzaville to the Atlantic port of Pointe-Noir. It was completed in 1934, when Equatorial Africa was a French colony, and it stands as one of the deadliest construction projects in history. Colonial workers were subjects of an ostensibly democratic nation whose motto read “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” but liberal ideals were savaged by a cruelly indifferent administrative state. […Learn More]

Book cover of The Man Who Understood Democracy: The Life of Alexis de Tocqueville by Olivier Zunz
Biography & Autobiography

The Man Who Understood Democracy: The Life of Alexis de Tocqueville 

A definitive biography of the French aristocrat who became one of democracy’s greatest champions

In 1831, at the age of twenty-five, Alexis de Tocqueville made his fateful journey to America, where he observed the thrilling reality of a functioning democracy. From that moment onward, the French aristocrat would dedicate his life as a writer and politician to ending despotism in his country and bringing it into a new age. […Learn More]

Book cover of Mutinous Women: How French Convicts Became Founding Mothers of the Gulf Coast by Joan DeJean
Colonial Period

Mutinous Women: How French Convicts Became Founding Mothers of the Gulf Coast 

The secret history of the rebellious Frenchwomen who were exiled to colonial Louisiana and found power in the Mississippi Valley

In 1719, a ship named La Mutine (the mutinous woman), sailed from the French port of Le Havre, bound for the Mississippi. It was loaded with urgently needed goods for the fledgling French colony, but its principal commodity was a new kind of export: women. […Learn More]

Book cover of The Burgundians: A Vanished Empire by Bart Van Loo
Europe

The Burgundians: A Vanished Empire

At the end of the fifteenth century, Burgundy was extinguished as an independent state. It had been a fabulously wealthy, turbulent region situated between France and Germany, with close links to the English kingdom. Torn apart by the dynastic struggles of early modern Europe, this extraordinary realm vanished from the map. But it became the cradle of what we now know as the Low Countries, modern Belgium and the Netherlands. […Learn More]

Book cover of The Fall of Robespierre: 24 Hours in Revolutionary Paris by Colin Jones
Europe

The Fall of Robespierre: 24 Hours in Revolutionary Paris

The day of 9 Thermidor (27 July 1794) is universally acknowledged as a major turning-point in the history of the French Revolution. At 12.00 midnight, Maximilien Robespierre, the most prominent member of the Committee of Public Safety which had for more than a year directed the Reign of Terror, was planning to destroy one of the most dangerous plots that the Revolution had faced. […Learn More]

Book cover of Vénus Noire: Black Women and Colonial Fantasies in Nineteenth-Century France by Robin Mitchell
Europe

Vénus Noire: Black Women and Colonial Fantasies in Nineteenth-Century France

Even though there were relatively few people of color in postrevolutionary France, images of and discussions about black women in particular appeared repeatedly in a variety of French cultural sectors and social milieus. In Vénus Noire, Robin Mitchell shows how these literary and visual depictions of black women helped to shape the country’s postrevolutionary national identity, particularly in response to the trauma of the French defeat in the Haitian Revolution. […Learn More]