Alfred Cobban, a leading authority on eighteenth-century France, is also a writer capable of injecting a Balzacian brio into discussions of the minutiae of history. This collection of sixteen articles on a wide range of subjects relating to revolutionary France exhibits both endowments to advantage. From the author's delightful account of ""The Affair of the Diamond Necklace"" (whose anti-heroine ""involved the whole affair in such a tangle of lies that neither the Court at the time, nor anyone since, has ever been able to disentangle it completely"") to his weighty and controversial ""The French Revolution: Orthodox and Unorthodox Interpretations,"" the ironies of history and the foibles of historians are paraded with a charm that overrides even Mr. Cobban's occasional lapse into Coultonesque polemics. The two essays on Robespierre and the appraisal of Carlyle's classic work on the Revolution, particularly, are models of analytical acumen and incisiveness. Although all of these articles, except one, have already appeared in various periodicals, their collection into a single volume renders a valuable service to libraries, students, and to the history buff. Some of these pieces are ""standards."" Others are, by the author's estimate, almost disturbingly ""revisionist."" All of them, however, are more than worth the reading.