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Books

Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
NEW!

In France Profound

The Long History of a House, a Mountain Town, and a People

by T.D. Allman

From the National Book Award-longlisted author of Finding Florida, a sparkling, sweeping chronicle of the author’s life and discoveries in a town in “Deep France,” from nearby prehistoric caves to medieval dynastic struggles to the colorful characters populating the area today

  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 480
  • Publication Date August 13, 2024
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2784-6
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $30.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Publication Date August 13, 2024
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6386-8
  • US List Price $30.00

When T. D. Allman purchased an 800-year-old house in the mountain village of Lauzerte in southwestern France, he aimed to find refuge from the world’s tumults. Instead, he found that humanity’s most telling melodramas, from the paleolithic to the post-modern, were graven in its stones and visible from its windows.

Indeed, the history of France can be viewed from the perspective of Lauzerte and its surrounding area, just as Allman, from one window, can see Lauzerte unfold before him in the Place des Cornières, where he watches performances of the opera Tosca and each Saturday buys produce from “Fred, the Foie Gras Guy;” and from the other side facing the Pyrenees he surveys the fated landscape that generated many of the events giving birth to the modern world. The dynastic struggles of Eleanor of Aquitaine, he finds, led to Lauzerte’s remarkably progressive charter issued in 1241, which even then enshrined human rights in its 51 articles. From Eleanor’s marriage to English king Henry II in 1154 dates the never-ending melodrama pitting English arrogance against French resistance; in 2016 Brexit demonstrated that this perpetual contretemps is another of the vaster conditions life in Lauzerte illuminates. Allman chronicles the many conflicts that have swirled in the region, from the Catholic Church’s genocidal campaign to wipe out “heresy” there; to France’s own 16th-century Wars of Religion, which saw hundreds massacred in the town square, some inside his house; to World War II, during which Lauzerte was part of Nazi-occupied Vichy.

In prose as crystalline as his view to the Pyrenees on a clear day, Allman animates Lauzerte and its surrounding communities—Cahors, Moissac, Montauban—all ever in thrall to the magnetic impulse of Paris. Witness to so many dramas over the centuries, his house comes alive as a historical protagonist in its own right, from its wine-cellar cave to the roof where he wages futile battle with pigeons, to the life lessons it conveys. “The onward march of history, my House keeps demonstrating, never takes a rest,” he observes, pulling us vividly into his world.

Praise for In France Profound

“A mountain view of history in France. When journalist Allman bought an 800-year-old house in Lauzerte, a mountain village in southwestern France, he found himself steeped in the tumultuous history of the region, which he recounts with zesty enthusiasm in a combination of memoir, historical narrative, and travelogue . . . An engaging, richly detailed tale.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“[Allman’s] writing is often brilliant, warm, and clever. The stories of present-day Lauzerte are, by turns, gripping and amusing; the details of Allman’s routines and the people of the village are touching and edifying. The historical portions emphasize brutal incidents and people . . . Best suited for fans of Allman’s work, along with readers intrigued by a little-known French town, the author’s 800-year-old house, and the book’s contemporary elements. This will appeal to readers who enjoy Martin Walker’s Bruno, Chief of Police mystery series as well.”Library Journal 

Praise for Finding Florida:

Longlisted for the National Book Award

“A take-no-prisoners account . . . Extremely timely and relevant.”—New York Times Book Review

“Gripping.”—Salon

“A magisterial rip at the state’s invaders, conquerors and rulers.”—Orlando Magazine

“A rich and lively history of Florida, minus the Disney gloss . . . [Allman] shatters five centuries of mythmaking to tell the real story. . . . A splendid rendering of the messy human story of our fourth-most populous state.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Allman’s engaging, eye-opening, and heavily researched history of Florida spans half a millennium, from the myth of Ponce de León’s Fountain of Youth to the 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, and it is a fulsome cavalcade of would-be conquistadors, epically corrupt and racist politicians, and oligarch wannabes.”—Booklist

“An immense and important work.”—Bookforum

“I loved Allman’s extraordinary book. . . . Almost every county in Florida bears the name of a butcher, a slavedriver, a madman, a scoundrel or a thief, in a state where for half a millennium the governing mandate seems to be Defeat the Truth, Triumph over Reality. T.D. Allman’s counter-narrative to all the pretty lies is a scouring hurricane of research, investigation, and soul-cleansing wrath, and I doubt there has ever been a better, or more important, book written about the Sunshine State, the birthplace of imperial hubris, American-style.”—Bob Shacochis, author of The Immaculate Invasion and The Woman Who Lost Her Soul

“Equal parts social analysis, historical review, and jeremiad, Finding Florida is a passionate, often scathing, and remarkably comprehensive encounter with a confounding, contradictory, and ever-elusive place. If your idea of hell is being chained to a galley oar between a politician and a Chamber of Commerce exec, then you are likely to love this book.”—Les Standiford, author of Last Train to Paradise

“Manuscripts repeatedly find their way into print that ignore the reality of Florida’s past and, in so doing, skew our understanding of what Florida has been, what it is now, what it’s likely to become, and what that means for everyone. T. D. Allman’s book turns all that on its head. It directly challenges the existing historiography with highly intelligent insight and crafting of narrative in a way that permits the reader to immerse himself in a world far from the expected one. Finding Florida is provocative to the point of daring. Thomas Jefferson claimed a little revolution was needed about every twenty years. Florida and its historiography is long overdue for one.”—Canter Brown, Jr., Professor of History, Fort Valley State University

Finding Florida is fascinating, comprehensive, and accessible to the non-specialist reader. While Allman covers an enormous amount of material—taking Florida from uninhabited swampland to the sidewalk culture of South Beach—he does so in such engaging ways that the reader is never overwhelmed. Indeed, each chapter is in itself a satisfying and illuminating narrative, stock full of vivid characters. Somehow he has managed to pull together a compelling read without sacrificing historical substance, a feat to which many professional historians aspire. His wry voice conveys a point of view that gently pushes readers to understand Florida as an American synecdoche.”—Glenda Gilmore, Peter V. and C. Vann Woodward Professor of History, Yale University

“Allman provides connections between events, trends, individuals, cultures, geography and geology that all worked to shape Florida’s past and our future. But the real reason to pick up this book is that it’s a ripping good read; with its fast pace, wry humor, polished prose, and compelling story, I just could not put it down.”—Thomas Van Lent, senior scientist at the Everglades Foundation