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Richard Cobb, the incomparable historian of the French revolution, had an affinity with France that went beyond academic interest. Living there in the years after the Second World War, he acquired, he felt, a second identity as a Frenchman. But his was not the France best known to visitors. He was drawn, as David Gilmour writes in this introduction, not to the romantic or the beautiful but to their opposites - to the banal, the ordinary, the unheroic, to people and their routines, to tramways and railway stations, townscape of mills and chimneys and back-to-back terraced houses. He showed no interest in the rich or aristocratic, but moved comfortably between eccentric bourgeois and criminal anarchic working class. His closest French friend was a deserter and a thief. Cobb never set out to record his unique encounter with the French. Instead, he explored it piecemeal, in articles or broadcasts or introductions to books no longer obtainable. These writings are collected here for the first time. The France Cobb describes was beginning to disappear long before his death in 1996. The picture presented is, as a result, elegiac, unique and unforgettable.
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Richard Cobb (1917-1996) fell in love with France when he first visited in 1935. He went on to write many works of history—some in French, some in English—about the French Revolution and occupied France.Review:
"His France—urban, northern, provincial, pedestrian, noisy, unpuritanical, festive—was in contrast to, and predicated upon, another France: bureaucratic, official, suburban, safe, rule—crazy, scared."
— Julian Barnes
"Prophet of the past, poete maudit, Richard Cobb is a visionary. His books will take you on an extraordinary intellectual and emotional journey....Read them as you would Gogol: in search of dead souls."
— Robert Darnton, The New York Review of Books
"Cobb was a true historian of life 'from below', using archival evidence to bring alive the reality—and the suffering—of ordinary people’s existence. His essays about his own life and times have the same loving attention to detail, to the texture of quotidian events, to real people and real feeling."
— Geoffrey Wheatcroft, New Statesman
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Book Description John Murray Publishers, Ltd., 1999. Paperback. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0719554624
Book Description John Murray Pubs Ltd, 1999. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0719554624