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A major contribution to the study of collective identity and memory in France, this book examines a French republican myth: the belief that the nation can be adequately defended only by its own citizens, in the manner of the French revolutionaries of 1793. Alan Forrest examines the image of the citizen army reflected in political speeches, school textbooks, art and literature across the nineteenth century. He reveals that the image appealed to notions of equality and social justice, and with time it expanded to incorporate Napoleon's victorious legions, the partisans who repelled the German invader in 1814 and the people of Paris who rose in arms to defend the Republic in 1870. More recently it has risked being marginalized by military technology and by the realities of colonial warfare, but its influence can still be seen in the propaganda of the Great War and of the French Resistance under Vichy.
Alan Forrest is Professor of Modern History at the University of York. His previous books include Paris, the Provinces and the French Revolution (2004), Napoleon's Men: The Soldiers of the Revolution and Empire (2002) and The Revolution in Provincial France: Aquitaine, 1789-1799 (1996).