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1000 Years of Annoying the French by Stephen…

1000 Years of Annoying the French (2010)

by Stephen Clarke

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3691329,371 (3.87)16

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Mainly good fun, though the schoolboy jokes get a bit wearing. Teasing mockery of French pretensions and a bit of righting of myths: e.g. the guillotine was invented in England and champagne too. Sometimes he's an unreliable witness, Tolly guillotined? Has Clarke read his own book? in the next chapter already he tells us Guillotine was introduced during revolution.
Sometimes an unreliable witness, e.g.
Buckingham died? No, assassinated!

p222 Mademoiselle as “senior female heir to the throne”- certainly not heir: see Salic Law
And Gruyère is Swiss!
Funniest are the quotes at the epilogue, though most are anti-English: e.g."Now i know why the English prefer tea; I just tasted their coffee" ( )
  vguy | Nov 20, 2017 |
Slightly overlong, but entertaining and sometimes informative account of the history between 2 countries who are really the best of enemies. ( )
  Devatipan | Sep 17, 2017 |
Good history and excellent humor combined. Very fun read. ( )
  bness2 | May 23, 2017 |
A sort of 'Cliff Note' version of 1,000 years of English history, but funny. Not really a good primary source of English History, but if you know enough to get by, you'll certainly find this to be an amusing read. ( )
  hhornblower | Sep 13, 2016 |

Someone wrote in his review that you don't need to be English or hate the French to enjoy this book, and he was certainly right. I enjoyed it, being Dutch, as I can always laugh with the rivalry between the French and the Brits. It is also a great history lesson which starts with a - quite necessary - explanation of what exactly happened in 1066. I had completely forgotten, as it is not my national history. Apologies. From that point on is shows histories about Canada and the to-be-USA, champagne, many a French-Anglo war, the French Revolution, Napoleon, and at last the Eurostar train between England and France. I think I learned quite a lot during this read, I found it interesting as well, as the writing style is mocking both the French as the Brits. ( )
  Floratina | May 26, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
The French have always considered themselves to be nature's aristocrats, whilst their failures (such as Crecy, Agincourt, and their candidature for the 2012 Olympics) have been swept under the carpet by a race who 'still consider Napoleon's retreat from Moscow to be a strategic withdrawal, and the Nazi occupation of France as merely a waiting period until De Gaulle was ready to come back and seize victory.'
But in chronicling a millennium spent glowering at one another from across the Channel, Clarke also makes a spirited argument for English ownership of virtually every great French tradition.
Take Champagne, for instance. Far from being a French invention, bubbly only became possible once British bottle-making techniques provided a product that could withstand all that extra fizz without the contents exploding all over your dinner table. And with the onset of global warming, the best vintages will soon be grown on the Hackney Marshes, anyway.
Even the guillotine, ultimate symbol of liberty, equality and fraternity, can claim to be an English invention. An earlier version of this device for achieving rapid weight-loss was allegedly being used in a small market town in Yorkshire some years before the eponymous Parisian professor came up with his own design.
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'The English, by nature, always want to fight their neighbours for no reason, which is why they all die badly.' - From the Journal d'un Bourgeois de Paris, written during the Hundred Years War

'We have been, we are, and I trust we always will be, detested by the French.' - The Duke of Wellington
To the Crimée Crew for their thousand years of patience, and especially to N., who helped me through every battle.

Merci to my editor Selina Walker for her sense of history in reminding me constantly of my deadline.

And to everyone at Susanna Lea's agency for their role in making this whole histoire possible.

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The French are very proud of the fact that they were the last people to invade the British Isles.
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"Stephen Clarke takes a penetrating look into those murky depths, guiding us through all the times when Britain and France have been at war - or at least glowering at each other across the English Channel. Along the way he explodes a few myths that French historians have been trying to pass off as 'la vrit', as he proves that the French did not invent the baguette, or the croissant, or even the guillotine, and would have taken the bubbles out of bubbly if the Brits hadn't created a fashion for fizzy champagne. Starting with the Norman (not French) Conquest and going right up to the supposedly more peaceful present, when a state visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy becomes a series of hilarious historical insults, it is impeccably researched - account of all our great fallings-out.… (more)

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