Here is an incomparably rich portrait of France in the years when the disparate elements that made up the fragmented kingdom of the ancien regime were forged into the modern nation. The survey begins with an exploration of national obsessions and attitudes. It considers the tendency to revolution and war, the preoccupation with the idea of a New Order and the deep strain of national paranoia that was to be intensified by the dramatic debacle of the Franco-Prussian War. Robert Tombs then investigates the structures of power and in Part Three he turns his attention to social identities, from the individual and family to the nation at large. When every aspect of the period has been put under the microscope, Robert Tombs draws them all into the broad political narrative that brings the book to its rousing conclusion. Bursting with life as well as learning, this is, quite simply, a tour de force.