Professor receives prize for ‘Best Book in Modern French History’

Professor receives prize for ‘Best Book in Modern French History’
Tuesday, January 21, 2020

 A book by UNC Charlotte History professor Christine Haynes has been chosen the best in modern French history (post 1815) over the previous two years, receiving the inaugural Weber Book Prize from the UCLA Department of History.

The Eugen Weber Book Prize in French History is a biennial prize that is named for the eminent French historian Eugen Weber (1925-2007) and includes a cash award of $15,000. The prize was announced at the American Historical Association annual meeting in January in New York City. Haynes will receive the award formally in May when she delivers a talk at UCLA.

“I am thrilled to receive this prize in honor of one of the premiere historians of modern France,” Haynes said. “It is most gratifying to have my work recognized by a committee of scholars in my field.”

The award committee noted that Haynes' book, “Our Friends the Enemies: The Occupation of France After Napoleon,” is a highly original analysis of the occupation of France following the Napoleonic wars. Using a vast, multinational array of archival sources, it presents an unforgettable portrait of the actions and experiences of every layer of French society in defeat—from peasants and their families, to urban dwellers and officials, to Louis XVIII.

The history is complex and includes rape and savage murders, cross-cultural fraternization and friendship and cosmopolitan encounters. This complexity is never muddled because of crystal-clear storytelling, despite the massive cast of characters, the interaction between multiple cultures and the thousands of miles crossed, the award committee stated.

Historians have suggested that the idea of European unity emerged from the Congress of Vienna. Haynes makes readers look elsewhere—to the daily life and local events as they unfolded during the occupation and to the negotiations between the victors and the French. Her conclusions will have a larger impact on the way in which historians of France and beyond think about occupation, war and reconstruction—as well as Franco-German relations later in the century, noted the committee.

To research the book, Haynes spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar in Strasbourg, France, the capital of the European Union. Educated at the University of Michigan and the University of Chicago, Haynes is an expert in modern European history, especially French. She has written widely about the political, military, economic and cultural history of France, particularly in the aftermath of the French Revolution and Napoleon.