In a self-reflective introduction to what was, sadly, his last publication, an essay collection, John Merriman lamented that the nineteenth century has been forgotten among historians of France. Noting the absence of books on this period in the Fnac bookstore at Les Halles in Paris, he wrote the following:
In thinking about French history from 1815 to the present, one thing now seems perfectly clear to me. As time moves relentlessly along, the century between 1815 and World War I is in some ways far less visible than it was when I became a historian.…For years the shelves [of such bookstores] had been organized chronologically: the French Revolution and Napoleon, then the nineteenth century, subdivided, and then the Great War. But the sections now jumped from Napoleon to the Great War! What had happened to the long nineteenth century? (What happened to my books?)…The revolutions of 1830 and 1848, which had so engaged folks like me for quite some time, seemed to have had their day.
Christine Haynes is professor of history at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. She has written on a wide variety of topics related to nineteenth-century French history, including book publishers, literary property rights, military occupation, financial reparations, and roller coasters. Her most recent book is Our Friends the Enemies: The Occupation of France after Napoleon (Harvard University Press, 2018).