This is the first biography of Marc Bloch (1886-1944), historian, soldier in both world wars, and leader of the Resistance, who was captured, tortured, and died a heroic death. Based largely on Bloch's private letters, diaries and papers, as well as on other unpublished documents, it traces the remarkable life of this French-Jewish patriot under the Third Republic. As an historian, Bloch is perhaps best known for The Historian"s Craft, an inspiring set of meditations on his life"s work, and as co-founder of the now legendary journal Annales, which gave rise to a major school of historical writing. Profoundly influenced by the dark events that shaped his era - world wars, anti-semitism, and totalitarianism - Bloch has become something of an intellectual hero of our century, his life an epitome of the endeavour to uphold, in the face of such events, the spirit of unfettered critical enquiry.
"It is difficult to see how one could write a better biography of a complex, courageous, and brilliant man whose impact on twentieth-century historical scholarship has perhaps no equal." Journal of Modern History "Carol Fink tells this scholar's life with respect but not hero-worship. She makes exemplary use of her sources. She explains the baffling (to Americans) system of French higher education. The history of the almost legendary early years of Annales is elucidated. She conjures up the shabby genteel world of European university teaching between the wars. Marc Bloch could scarcely have imagined how precarious that world was." Reid Beddow, The Washington Post "At last, a full biography of one of the great historians of the twentieth century! Working extensively from private papers and little-used documents, Carole Fink gives an absorbing account of the life and career of Marc Bloch, his creation with Lucien Febvre of a new school of historical writing, his service in two World Wars and in the French resistance. This is a fascinating portrait of an assimilated Jewish family, of the French university world and of patriotic political engagement in the first half of the twentieth century." Natalie Zemon Davis, Princeton University "...excellent and carefully documented biography..." Times Literary Supplement "...an exemplary analysis of the intellectual man of action, whose courage and conviction as a French patriot and old-fashioned good citizen led to his martyrdom at the hands of the Germans." Jewish Post and Opinion "The meticulous reconstruction of the life of one of the great historians of our century and of his important and--during World War II--heroic role in history. An excellent commentary on the intellectual and political life of France during his time." Foreign Affairs "This long overdue biography (the first in any language) is welcome." Wilson Library Bulletin "Well written and meticulously researched, with much of the evidence taken from Bloch's papers, it will appeal to all historians since it deals extensively with the methodological concerns of Bloch and the collaboration of Bloch and Lucien Febvre in the founding and editing of Annales...This excellent biography delineates the exceptional intellectual talents and the admirable character traits of Bloch that made him a courageous and true French citizen and one of the most distinguished historians of the twenteth century." Speculum "Carole Fink has written the first full-length biography of Marc Bloch with thoroughness, sympathy and perceptiveness...an absorbing book..[which would have] pleased Bloch, for whom history was both a fascinating story and a science always in motion." The New York Review of Books "Scholars will delight in the fact that Fink humanizes a man who has by now begun to take on larger-than-life proportions in legend and lore, and serious lay readers will profit from reading it as well...Fink's tone is casual, her style easy to follow. She paints the canvas of Bloch's life against the larger mural of French Third Republic history. The effect is a remarkable history of an age as told through the life of one man who strove to understand it and teach it to others." Richard Polirer, Washington Jewish Week