Professor Receives Prize For “Best Book In Modern French History”

A book by UNC Charlotte History Professor Christine Haynes has been chosen the best book 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 in May when she travels to UCLA to give a talk.

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

In their citation, the award committee noted that Haynes’ book, Our Friends the Enemies: The Occupation of France After Napoleon (Harvard, 2018), 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.

Book cover
Christine Haynes received the prestigious Fulbright Scholar award to research the book.

This complexity is never muddled because of crystal-clear story-telling, despite the massive cast of characters, the interaction between multiple cultures, and the thousands of miles crossed, the award committee noted.

Historians have suggested that the idea of European unity emerged from the Congress of Vienna. Haynes makes us 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, the committee stated.

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, she is an expert in modern European, especially French, history. She has written widely about the political, military, economic, and cultural history of France, particularly in the aftermath of the French Revolution and Napoleon.

In addition to her teaching, research, writing, and service on campus, including significant work with graduate education, Haynes shares her expertise with varied audiences through community talks.

The prize committee awarded honorable mention to James E. Connolly in the French Department at University College London for The Experience of the Occupation in the Nord, 1914-1918:  Living with the Enemy in First World War France.