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"Nationalizing France’s Army: Foreign, Black and Jewish" Topic


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Tango0101 Nov 2019 10:17 p.m. PST

…Troops in the French Military, 1715-1831 by Christopher Tozzi

"The French Revolution has long been acknowledged as a watershed in the history of France. Over the past two-and-a-quarter centuries it has spawned a plethora of studies from scholars, statesmen, political scientists, and polemical ideologues, while the wars that engulfed Europe from 1792-1815 are amongst the most written about in history. To find something new to say about the period, and to shed new light onto our existing understanding, is therefore no mean feat; nevertheless, this is what Christopher Tozzi achieves in Nationalizing France's Army: Foreign, Black and Jewish Troops in the French Military, 1715-1831. Although the book title advertises a more chronologically expansive study, the central focus and most impressive arguments concern the key years of 1789-99. This crucial revolutionary decade saw France's new leaders begin to reconceptualize and attempt to codify what it meant to be French, and to struggle to impose their vision onto a broad, diverse, and often reluctant national community. Tozzi presents a well-researched and valuable addition to this discussion, showing how soldiering was used to help to define the limits of French citizenship from the ancien régime to the Bourbon restoration, and demonstrating how concepts of identity were challenged by the claims of foreign, black, and Jewish soldiers to both citizenship and, ultimately, Frenchness…."

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