Friend or Foe
By Alistair Horne
Britain's premier historian on France from Caesar to Mitterrand - to coincide with the centenary of the Entente CordialeA century after the Entente Cordiale ended centuries of war and enmity between France and Britain, and two hundred years after the coronation of Britain's deadly enemy, Napoleon Bonaparte, as Emperor, Alistair Horne contemplates two thousand years of France.The Entente Cordiale meant different things to the signatories. For France it meant, quite simply, the certainty at last of an ally who would counter-balance the dread power of Kaiser Wilhelm II's vast and menacing Reich on her doorstep. For Britain the Entente signified an end to centuries of conflict with France, but it also meant inevitable involvement in a major European war. The modern rift over the Iraq war has emphasized once again that a slim channel of water may be all that separates the countries physically, but in temperament, in attitudes, in life generally -- and, particularly, in history itself -- the differences remain fundamental, and intense.