Released on 25 February 2016.

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The Discovery of France

4.01 based on 1092 ratings & 148 reviews on Goodreads.com

2008 Long-listed

BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize

2008 Winner

Duff Cooper Prize

Synopsis

With an introduction by Colm Tóibín

Ten years ago, I began to explore the country on which I was supposed to be an authority . . .

France is a country famous for its intellectuals, its philosophers and writers, its fashion, food and wine. And yet the notion of 'the French' as one nation is relatively recent and - historically speaking - quite misleading. In order to discover the 'real' past of France, Graham Robb realised it was not only necessary to go back in time, but also to go at a slower pace than modern life generally allows. The Discovery of France, illuminating, engrossing and full of surprises, is the result of Robb's 14,000 mile journey across France on a bicycle.

Winner of both the Duff Cooper and the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje prizes, The Discovery of France is a modern non-fiction classic, a literary exploration of a remarkable nation. From maps and migration to magic, language and landscape, it reveals a France few will recognize.
'An extraordinary journey of discovery' Daily Telegraph
'Robb's concise and fast-paced writing pedals along with never a dull paragraph . . . dazzling' Sunday Times

In the media

Elegant, entertaining and occasionally brilliant . . . As this book powerfully demonstrates, French history is nothing if not built on paradox and contradiction. Most importantly, Robb reminds us why France still matters.
Observer
As an alternative view of French history it is a fascinating diversion. Its real value lies in helping to explain why modern France remains a centrally directed society that has adopted big ideas and bloody ideals in order to create itself.
Daily Mail
Robb's concise and fast-paced writing pedals along with never a dull paragraph, as facts, events, characters and quotations flash by . . . This book is an elegy to what has disappeared, a retrospective exploration of that lost world. But the British love affair with France makes this particular story special, and Robb, from his two-wheeled vantage point, has made a dazzling and moving contribution to a long tradition
Sunday Times