Richard Cobb, 27 June 1991
Eugen Weber is the leading American historian of the French Right in the period 1890 to 1914. He is also the author of a brilliant study of the growth of a national identity among the rural population of France in the second half of the 19th century and up to the outbreak of the First World War. As befits the personal angle to the main title of the present collection, the author opens with a charming account of his own haphazard course from Bucharest and other places in Romania, via Paris in the late Thirties, to a period in an unnamed English public school in the early Forties, service in the infantry of the British Army in the later stages of the Second World War, and then to graduate work at Cambridge where he nearly became a Medievalist. As in so many cases of historical vocation, accident, chance and good luck resulted in his choice of the study of French nationalism in the twenty years or so before 1914 and in the inter-war years up to 1939.