Best historical france biographies according to redditors

We found 218 Reddit comments discussing the best historical france biographies. We ranked the 53 resulting products by number of redditors who mentioned them. Here are the top 20.

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Top Reddit comments about Historical France Biographies:

u/LivingDeadInside · 51 pointsr/AskHistorians

That scene is taken directly from the book it was based upon. It happened exactly like that every morning. Versailles and the French court of the time had a lot of purposely elaborate and time-consuming rituals for daily tasks to keep the courtiers busy and out of trouble.

edit: Since we're on the subject of Marie Antoinette and funny titles, here's a fun fact: the queen's full birth name was actually Maria Antonia. Antoinette was only a nickname she was given as the youngest of 15 children. The "ette" on the end means "little Antonia".

u/King_Ignatz · 34 pointsr/UpliftingNews

Yo, if you are at all intrigued by this, you gotta check out And There Was Light by Jacques Lusseyran. It's the autobiography of a blind member of the French Resistance during WWII, and it is an amazing book.

Unfortunately, I think it's gone out of print recently. There are 37 copies left on [Amazon] (, though, and the good news is that they are hella cheap.

u/wenchette · 11 pointsr/hillaryclinton

I agree. I've been reading a great deal about that period in the last year or so, both pre-1933 and post. This book, which I've read twice, shows how people didn't think Hitler would last long once he came to power.

The difference between Bevin and a head of state is that a state governor ultimately is limited in his or her power. However, when you put a fascistic narcissistic dissembler in the head of state chair, it's a very different story.

u/hairway2steven · 11 pointsr/MapPorn

I'm reading a really excellent book on Napoleon at the moment. Recommended.

Napoleon: A Life

u/olddoc · 10 pointsr/europe

In Victor Klemperer's diary published in volumes from 1933 to 1941 and from 1942 to 1945, he describes how even in Germany small pockets of the Jewish population remained all the way to the end. Every week a few were picked up from his friends' circle never to return, and as early as 1941 he writes it was generally known that if you went to these camps, you died.

Klemperer himself was a jew who fell between the cracks of subsequent waves of arrests. He a) was married to a German woman, b) had converted to Protestantism before WWI, c) had served in the German army during WWI and most importantly d) they had no children, so hadn't "produced mixed offspring" (families with mixed children were prioritized for the camps). Hitler himself had signed laws giving a special pension to WWI veterans, so Klemperer created a head scratcher for nazi bureaucrats who didn't know how to deal with it, so they always let him go after questioning.

Amazingly enough, he was saved by the Dresden bombing. Klemperer lived in the outskirts of Dresden, and could flee to allied territory when the city was in chaos after the firebombing.

u/BeanBone · 9 pointsr/formula1

If you want to know more about him (and Phil Hill and the rest of F1 at the time), I cannot recommend enough The Limit. Fantastic read.

u/amazon-converter-bot · 7 pointsr/FreeEBOOKS

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u/Hungpowshrimp · 6 pointsr/100yearsago

Of course! Though, disappointingly my French collection is not up to snuff with the rest of my collection, as I primarily reenact a Prussian Riflemen of the Imperial German forces, but I've got some odds and ends.

The pride and joy would be my M1915 Adrian helmet, with original paint still in tact as well as the army badge on the front. The liner had long ago rotted out, so I had a great friend of mine who specializes (and is his sole income) in refurbishing original helmets from The Great War through to The Korean War. I have an affinity for head wear, especially steel helmets, to which I have a Belgium, Russian, Serbian, and even Polish variation of the French Adrian helmet!

I have a French Lebel M1886 rifle, dated 1905, which definitely saw some use in the war. Which, believe it or not is still pretty fun to take out and shoot, ammo isn't too hard to find for it (8mm Lebel, incidentally the first smokeless powder cartridge ever developed and adopted by a nation). Kept clean and lubricated I haven't had any foul ups or breakages. Along with the rifle, came the infamous "Rosalie" bayonet-- a blade of 20 inches or so long, also dated 1905.

Other than that, I have a pipe that was from a collection of some personal effects as well as some trench art on an artillery shell that came from an estate sale many, many years ago.

I do have the Horizon Blue greatcoat, literally just to wear when it gets very cold or I'm up in the mountains someplace because I think it looks awesome. It is however a reproduction that was made when a member of the club sourced some bolts of original fabric while he was in France visiting family. Decent amount of providence!

If you have not yet already read it, you should do yourself a favor and obtain the book "Poilu: The World War I Notebooks of Corporal Louis Barthas, Barrelmaker" by Louis Barthas. It is hands down one of the best personal accounts of the Great War, and specifically of the French trials and tribulations, the man was in the war from nearly the beginning, through to the end and all the horrible battles the French fought in, 9/10 he was there. Fascinating, horrifying, unbelievably nerve-racking primary sources and documentation of the war from a conscripts point of view.

I could go on, and on, and on, and on... I love this stuff, and the Great War especially is a fascination, hell, an obsession of mine. Enjoy!

u/meathorse1 · 4 pointsr/todayilearned

"Napoleon: A Life" and "Napoleon the Great" are the same book. The US release has a different name for some reason. This should help with price shopping. Life is a cheaper hardcover. Great is a cheaper paperback.

u/FlashmanInThePan · 4 pointsr/history

Poilu is another remarkable WWI memoir, written by barrelmaker Louis Barthas. The Kaiser's Reluctant Conscript is also good; Dominik Richard was a man from Alsace (one of the regions seized from France in 1871) drafted into the German army (and not very happy about it).

u/JJLMul · 4 pointsr/AskHistorians

I really enjoyed [this book] ( Read a Dutch translation about 10 years ago but i am reading it again.

Louis Barthas, the writer, was called up in 1914 and survived the entire war. He fought at Verdun, the Somme, Champagne and The Argonne.

Anyway, great read. The reviews on amazon should tell you enough.

u/hillahilla · 3 pointsr/booksuggestions

Me again :) I had some more ideas.


You might also enjoy Livy's War with Hannibal, a really exciting book about the battle between Hannibal and Fabius Maximus, and their different fighting styles (Maximus was very cunning, or maybe just considered so because he won). I have this exact edition and it's a fun read, also full of gossip about goings-on in Rome at the time.


You could also have a look at Caesar's Conquest of Gaul: the history of his conquest, straight from the horse's mouth, as it were. I recall it being a bit dry and self-congratulatory, but hey, it's the man himself!


If you're looking at a very realistic description of political leadership (including military), have a look at Machiavelli's Prince. Despite having a reputation that's, well, Machiavellian, it's actually a very reasonable books about attaining and keeping political power. It's very much in line with what you say about

\> not making them the perfectly good side

plus he talks a lot about his ideal Prince, the infamous Cesare Borgia (who was a condottiere, or military leader of sorts). Loads of examples about his military achievements are given.


From modern history, De Gaulle's War Memoirs is very well-written and makes one fully realise the difficulties he faced and the responsibilities he took!

u/k_tolz · 3 pointsr/cars

The Limit: Life and Death on the 1961 Grand Prix Circuit is a great read on Phil Hill, Ken Miles, and the other drivers of the era. It delves into the Ford vs Ferrari duel as well.

u/I-am-Gizmoduck · 3 pointsr/PropagandaPosters

> opposing sides over Christmas.

That happened once, only in 1914, sporadically in 1915 and completely forgotten by 1916 with the Somme/Verdun & use of poison gas erasing any sense of civility.

>Can't let humanity get in the way of your war!

I've read a first account book, Poilu: The World War I Notebooks of Corporal Louis Barthas, Barrelmaker, 1914-1918, that describes a lot of "live & let live" moments on the Western Front. For instance, heavy raining causing the trenches to flood & both sides realize they need to get the hell out of there, but can't shoot at each other because they're in the same situation. So they just sort of stood out of their trenches, shrugged at each other & retreated.

However, the author describes what we know now as false propaganda. He describes the Germans consistently using "explosive bullets" & "reversed bullets" which we know now is entirely false: but shows how such rumors existed & were encouraged in order to spark a greater hatred. (While such things existed "explosive bullets" were early tracer rounds, mostly used to take out balloons & "reversed bullets" were early anti-tank rounds: precursors to the K-Bullet.)

The Barthas book is also interesting, because he's in his 30's when the War breaks out, and he's was a Socialist. A lot of his writing comes from a "I'm too old for this shit" & writes from a very socialist perspective of the war.

u/toolet · 3 pointsr/formula1
u/jn46 · 3 pointsr/formula1

For 1961, there's a book worth reading about Phil Hill and von Trips, The Limit: Life and Death on the 1961 Grand Prix Circuit

u/tailleferre · 2 pointsr/battlefield_one

To anyone who really wants a true and visceral account of some of the worst fighting of the First World War, I highly recommend getting a copy of Louis’ Barthas’ Poilu: The Wartime Diaries of Corporal Louis Barthas, Barrelmaker 1914-1918 . Barthas as French army infantry, served in Verdun, at the Somme and in many other famed locations and lived to tell the tale of the lowly foot soldier*.

A shorter read: Battle of Verdun

Fort de Vaux is one of my favorite maps, and the story of the actual fighting that occurred within is even more stellar. Forts Vaux and Douamount weathered an intense assault, and showed men at the very limit of their ability. It’s an enthralling read, and exemplifies the true brutality of the first mechanized war.

u/Signals91 · 2 pointsr/AbandonedPorn

I always found WWI to be highly interesting, so I've devoured my fair share of literature. I'll list a few of my favorites. All of these are biographical non-fiction books.

Poilu! - The World War I Notebooks of Corporal Louis Barthas, Barrelmaker, 1914-1918.

This guy lived through the entire war, spending most of it at the front. It details their daily life, but also the poor leadership and his hatred for the war. This one changed my perspective on war itself. A great read! If you're only picking up one, get this one.

Somme Mud - Edward P.F Lynch

Australian private lives through the fighting at Somme Mud, somehow. This one is very captivating, and I might have to re-read it.

Storm of Steel - Ernst Junger

A German account of the war, most of it spent at the front. Apparently there's a 1929 version in which Junger's patriotism and nationalism is conveyed, so I might want to try to get a hold of this edition myself. The newer edition is still a great read.

Sniper on the Eastern Front - Josef "Sepp" Allerberger

Another German account, but this one stands out because of it's focus on the snipers of the war.

These are all I can think of at the moment. I hope I've been able to spark some interest in the subject! If these do not ticke your fancy, there are tons of books covering different aspects of the war. All Quiet on the Western Front is fictional, but still a great read.

u/thescottwolford · 2 pointsr/wwi

Louis Barthas' account (a French conscript, also on the social-democratic left if I recall correctly) is pretty popular.

u/schnitzi · 2 pointsr/AskReddit

I've learned so much more by reading personal diaries and accounts pertaining to history than any other book that tries to provide a summary. Some specific ones:

I Shall Bear Witness, the diary of a Jewish professor who barely survived WWII thanks to being married to an Aryan woman. That's the first of three volumes. Maybe the most amazing thing I've ever read.

Mary Chestnut's Civil War - the diary of a well-connected society woman living in the South during the American civil war.

Eyewitness To History - First person accounts of many historical events.

I'm in the middle of the new Mark Twain autobiography which is great too.

Anyone else have recommendations along these lines?

u/mrBenDog · 2 pointsr/AskHistorians

For one personal view, take a look at the diaries of Victor Klemperer. One volume, I Will Bear Witness, covers the years 1933-1941. Another volume covers the years 1942-1945. (I think there are four volumes in the English translation.)

Klemperer was a professor in Dresden when the Nazis came to power. He lost his position at the university due to Nazi edicts, eventually worked in a factory, was moved (with his wife, who was not classified as a Jew) to a Judenhaus, and was about to be sent to a concentration camp when Dresden was bombed by the allies. He and his wife fled in the confusion of the bombing and made their way to allied forces.

His diary gives interesting insight not only into his thought processes about the changes around him, but also some glimpse of the society around him. It's been several years since I read this, but I recall reading of his trip on a street car and his comments on the reactions of various people seeing someone wearing the yellow star (I'm sorry, but I don't remember the details of this exchange to recount it here). Another interesting detail is to read his thoughts on conversations that he had with friends who either planned to leave Germany themselves or tried to encourage him to leave. His diaries also raise questions about the identity of one's self versus the identity placed on a person by others.

u/progressivemoron · 1 pointr/politics

>in the same way as the Bolsheviks were undeniably a leftist authoritarian movement.

Right, so the individual belonged to the state under both the Bolsheviks and the Nazis. Both controlled the means of production to a very high degree, and both were authoritarian.

Victor Klemperer lived under both and claimed that if there was a difference between the Nazis and the Bolsheviks, he sure as hell couldn't see it.

u/Mediaevumed · 1 pointr/history

There are some interesting points here and also a whole lot of hyperbole. Certainly it is highly unfair and foolish to label the French (or any people) with the term "coward". But then large scale generalizations are probably always foolish anyway...

For some more serious analysis of the issue go read Marc Bloch's Strange Defeat. It is an analysis by a first hand observer who also happens to have been one of the greatest historians of his time on possible reasons for the failure of France to resist Germany when hostilities broke out in WWII.

Incidentally, once you read it, if you still need more evidence for the falsity of the myth of cowardice, go read about Marc Bloch's life (and death). It should put some things into perspective.

u/lobosrul · 1 pointr/formula1

Oh yes Mario raced under the American flag. He's a rather proud naturalized citizen.

If you mean world championship, yes Phil Hill won in 1961. A highly recommended read:

Actually the 60's were a pretty good time for US drivers. Hill, Gurney and Richie Ginther all had pretty good success. Then Revson in the early 70's until his death.

After Andretti the last remotely successful US driver was Eddie Cheever, 9 podiums but no wins.

u/muncher_of_nachos · 1 pointr/history

Since I haven’t seen anyone recommend it: Poilu by Corporal Louis Barthas it only got translated to English somewhat recently. Basically a series of notebooks from a French corporal who fought through most of the war. I haven’t read it yet but I mean to.

u/Braves3333 · 1 pointr/history This book i found to be very interesting when talking about old egyptian history. It gives a look into early society and how they went from scattered communities to a kingdom, but it focuses on the religious aspect.

I would think a book on Napolean would be a good start, and also a book on the French Revolution.

u/Cj-3J · 1 pointr/selfpublish

Julie d'Aubigny: Or One Of The Coolest Gals In History

"When she was 14 years old she became the mistress of her father’s boss."

Julie d'Aubigny was born in the later half of the 17th century France. During her lifetime she became a talented fencer which led her into many illegal duels, opera singing, and attempting to seduce many people irregardless of their sex. She once had a brief run in with the law, being involved in the "kidnapping" of a nun and setting the convent on fire. Julie d'Aubigny was one of the most interetsing gals in all of history.

0.99 ebook

4.99 paperback

u/FOFDanF1 · 1 pointr/formula1

The Limit: Life and Death on the 1961 Grand Prix Circuit

by Michael Cannell

one if the best books I've read on any subject

u/Holkr · 1 pointr/AnarchoPacifism

>Had his wisdom and that of numerous war resisters in the U.S. prevailed, the U.S. would not have entered W.W. I. The author of War Against War, Michael Kazin, conjectures about how W.W. I would have ended if the U.S. had not intervened. “The carnage might have continued for another year or two,” Kazin writes, “until citizens in the warring nations, who were already protesting the endless sacrifices required, forced their leaders to reach a settlement. If the Allies, led by France and Britain, had not won a total victory, there would have been no punitive peace treaty like that completed at Versailles, no stab-in-the back allegations by resentful Germans, and thus no rise, much less triumph, of Hitler and the Nazis. The next world war, with its 50 million deaths, would probably not have occurred.”

This kind of conjecture really irks me. Anti-semitism was widespread in Europe at this time, even if the outcome had been the opposite you'd just as likely see a Naziesque movement in France (see the Dreyfus Affair). The only way to prevent a stab in the back legend would have been a complete destruction of either losing side, which of course happened to Germany in WW2.

For an account of a pacifist, socialist Christian involved in WW1 I'd recommend reading Poilu: The World War I Notebooks of Corporal Louis Barthas, Barrelmaker, 1914-1918. Particularly interesting are parts where the author tells a fellow soldier to wait to see what a German approaching their trench is up to, lest any needless aggression trigger a violent response, or where he draws his Lebel rifle on a murderous officer wanting to makes an example of a careless artilleryman.

u/VulvaDisplayOfPower · 1 pointr/USMC
u/Apprehensive-Cow · 1 pointr/HelpMeFind

Kindle eBook here, maybe this list on Goodreads

u/aim2free · 1 pointr/AskPhysics

I found the book in the bookshelf, it's "And There Was Light" by the French Resistance hero Jacques Lusseyran.

I haven't read far enough yet to get indications of something "magical" or that he developed other skills to see like seeing by sound or such, but when reading about the book on the web, as it was referenced on many places, it seems to be a great book in many ways and I'm glad you reminded me about it.

Regarding more rigorous experiments I guess such equipment I intended to build to investigate the dowsing rods, could be useful also here, as it would be to match coordinates in space mainly I guess, for statistical analysis. Regarding the dowsing rods, I got a few old ball mice where I can use the sensor wheels for sensing the position of the rods, but that may or may not be relevant, well as an arm position sensor possibly.

Anyway, for the space coordinate measurements I've pondered long time over how to do it simply (that is not too costly) and a method I'm intending to test soon is to have highly synchronised timers, e.g. by using something like Raspberry Pi and these Arduino compatible HC-SR04 ultra sonic distance meters which have a precison of around 1cm. The timer synchronisation can be achieved through a wireless protocol. My intention is simply to separate sender and receiver. The sending side starts an ultrasonic pulse and a timer at a precise moment, which the receiving sides know (can be many for triangulation), and can thus measure 3D coordinates. However, when thinking about it Thanks 8-) it is possible to utilize the same principle reversely. One can have a fix transmitter, and then plenty of receivers which are moving, stuck to arms, legs and such and get a coordinate for each receiver. I have to test this. One can also imagine that Kinect could be useful for this, but I don't know if it has enough precision. (The Kinect doesn't require Microsoft sw, they released open source drivers so you can work with them on any system, which I guess is the reason why they have been so extremely successful, I'm a Linux user).

Edit: sorry, it must have been too early in the morning... In the latter example I claimed it would be enough with one fix sender, to estimate a lot of 3D coordinates. One need of course 3 fix senders to be able to do that, which imples that you have to lower the dynamic resolution to 1/3, by doing three separate measures in sequence. Ideally this could be performed with wideband utrasonic speakers and microphones, but then those simple and affordable HC-SR04 may not be suitable.

u/nazzo · 1 pointr/history

I also highly recommend Marc Bloch's Strange Defeat!

u/AliasHandler · 1 pointr/history

The Days Of The French Revolution by Christopher Hibbert was a great narrative of the revolution that was quite easy to read.

I followed that up with Napoleon by Vincent Cronin which was a fantastic bio of Napoleon and shows how post-revolutionary france so easily fell into monarchy with Napoleon as emperor.

u/CrockenSpiel · 1 pointr/funny

Lady Antonia Fraser (wonder if you can get more questionable than her) has a vested interest in rewriting that part of history because of how relevant it is to now. Her father is Frank Pakenham, 7th Earl of Longford, who was Secretary of State for the Colonies, which was merged over time into Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs held currently by William Hague. Lady Antonia Fraser is an apologist for past elites, she tries to have us "understand" the actions of elites that think they act divinely (even if it's the devil they whisper their allegiance to). She defends Oliver Cromw