A serviceable biography of French historian Marc Bloch, whose career started literally days before WW I and ended with a hero's death in 1944 while serving in the French Resistance during WW II. Although highly regarded as a scholar (primarily for The Royal Touch, French Rural History, and Feudal Society), Bloch was no ivory-tower specialist. He came of age as the last ripples of the Dreyfus Affair swept over France and personally experienced and fought the revival of anti-Semitism between the wars. As an intelligence officer during WW I, he had a firsthand view of combat. Strange Defeat, his account of the happenings of 1918-40 that led to the defeat of France in 1940, is still considered one of the definitive accounts of that period, even though Capt. Bloch had at best a worm's-eye view of WW II as ""Fuel King"" (gasoline supply officer) of France's last Army. Fink (History/Univ, of North Carolina at Wilmington) makes much of Bloch's contributions to the reform of historical study and research in particular and French education in general, but most readers will find the more dramatic, more personal details here of greater interest.