An entry in this publisher's Mainstream of the Modern Worm Series, this is a history of France from the onset of the Revolution through World War II by two accomplished ladies. Neither of the ""personality school"" of history writing, nor, happily, constrained to reconstruct battles and minute political strategems, the authors glide through major events, some glancing but sufficient portraits, and the zeitgefuhl providing the general reader with background to understanding the carryings-on of contemporary France. The steady match of events is relieved by some meaningful miniatures--the little Dauphin complaining to his mother, Marie Antoinette, that the Tuileries where the family had fled is ""all dirty here, Mama""; Napoleon writing from Austria, ""The Emperor Alexander dances, but I do not--forty is forty""; pear-shaped Louis Philippe dispensing sausages on his birthday. The complicated machinations of inter-bellum diplomacy, the headlong course of royalty, elections and popular movements are simplified but not sugarcoated. The authors conclude with a reconstruction of the victory march of that ""disembodied voice,"" Charles de Gaulle, to Notre Dame at the close of World War II. Predictably, scholars will object to some interpretations of events, but this is, on the whole, a useful, plainspoken history for those who don't know their Mirabeau from their Robespierre.