Reviewed in 1996
Robert Descimon and Christian Jouhaud had the kindness to send me their manuel, La France du premier siècle, 1594-1661, a highly intelligent and thoughtful synthesis. Knowing them both as well as I do, I could not avoid reading the different sections with a unique author in mind. There are brilliant aperçus, a strong sense of the structure of politics (i.e., Sully's role being not unlike Colbert's, neither man being a royal favorite) and a strong sense of the corporate and social powers. The section on Richelieu makes him a bit more secular than I would like (I prefer Al Soman's treatment in his A. P. S. article on censorship); but there is discernment and judgment throughout, grounded on enormous erudition and a careful attention to the meaning of words. There are carefully-stated foreign policy contexts as well, a welcome change in works of this level. Greater attention to colonization, the navy, and the sense of the state as an expanding force would have been welcome.