Napoleon III: Buffoon, Modern Dictator, or Sphinx? (Problems in European Civilization)
The difficulties in compiling readings on a given phase of history are difficult at best. How convenient if one could simply raise certain questions about Napoleon III, his times, and the nature of his regime, and then summarily present the conflicting opinions in neatly arranged, short, succinct sections! The student would then easily be able to digest, memorize, and, one tends to suspect, promptly forget the material shortly after the final examination. Historical literature, however, simply does not lend itself to this type of manipulation. With a little effort on his part the discerning student will recognize that the body of the texts included in this book does represent a systematic and comprehensive attempt to acquaint him with the problems of the Second Empire, and to give him an appreciation of the scope and nature of the historical debate that has been, and continues to be waged over an important chapter in French history and over the man whose name appears in the heading of that chapter. Of course a problem book of this type cannot claim to be anything more than a bare introduction to the subject. The selected list of suggestions for additional readings will serve as a guide for those students whose curiosity is aroused by the selections presented here, and who want to probe the question further.
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