passion as did Michelet.” For anneighty-year-old scholar to say this is tonshow a historian’s virtue: the love of hisnsubject. In this case the love transcendsnscholarship, since it is addressed to annation — a fine lesson for the objectivenchroniclers, whose objectivity beginsnwith statistics and usually ends in ideologicalnallegiance. In the next few yearsnEuropean historians will be singing thenpraises of the new and ephemeralnUtopia, the Common Market. ButnBraudel’s declaration of love excludesnsuch a shift of loyalties; Michelet rhapsodizednover the French Revolutionnnot out of Jacobin sympathies but fromnhis commitment to the little people ofnFrance.nWhen Braudel puts the word “identity”nin his title, he sends a messagenthat in spite of the vast ensemblesnusually treated by the Annates school,nthe building blocks of history remainnsmaller units: nations. As both Bergsonnand Maurras agreed, humanity is anpleasant but empty notion. The nation,nBergson wrote, is the natural unitn(or tribe, clan, family, etc.) to whichnordinary people may become attached.nThe frontiers of mankind are not withinntheir horizon.nSuch vast ensembles were, nevertheless,nBraudel’s fields of investigation;nfor example, the Mediterraneannworld from archaic man to Philip II ofnSpain, capitalism (which he brilliantlyndivided into the many small “capitalisms”nof the pre-Renaissance), and thenaccumulation of capital in later centuries.nThe Identity of France establishes asnits main thesis that that country wasnbuilt on a contradiction. It was fornthousands of years the end-station ofnvarious peoples and tribes who camenfrom the East and could not pushnbeyond their quest for land and security.nIberia, with the Pyrenees, and thenBritish Isles protected by the EnglishnChannel, had natural obstacles (exceptnfor Visigoths, Vandals, and Normans)nagainst large-scale invasions. There remainednFrance, ideally situated to receivenever new waves. Yet — and herenis the paradox — France has becomenthe most tightly-knit nation of Europe.nAnother historian, Robert Latouche,nargued in 1956 that in spite ofnthe loss of a link with the Romannempire and in spite of Arab and otherninvasions, the French peasant re­n38/CHRONICLESnmained the backbone of the economy;nnot even the large feudal domainsncould change this basic structure ofnownership and production. This continuitynsoon found its institutional expressionnwith the monarchy; the impressionnis so strong even in France’snpresent decadent situation that thenfoundations hold. The state is still ansolid superstructure, keeping the countryn”tightly knit.”nBraudel himself tries to combinentwo kinds of scholarship. On the onenhand, he meticulously scrutinizes suchndetails as the frequency of telephonencalls between Dijon and Besangon,nattributing importance to the fact thatnthere are more calls in one directionnthan the other. On the other hand, hendescribes how in France’s history thenRoman and the Germanic coalesced,nwhile the Loire River has maintainednto this day two different languagesnspoken north and south of it, bothnnonetheless being genuine French.nAnother of his illustrations of oppositesncombined or fused is the original familynstructure that the institution of thenmonarchy imitated in the elaborationnof national unity. Marc Bloch, one ofnBraudel’s mentors, devoted a bulkynvolume to the belief that the kings ofnFrance were able to administer miraculousncures, and even during 1789 thentakers of the Bastille shouted slogans innfavor of the “King, our father!” Innother words, always the patchwork, butnalso always the pulling together ofnindividual or regional threads.nNotwithstanding Braudel’s significantntide, his sociological method certainlynhas its limits. My own introductionnas a youngster to history wasnthrough classes upon classes of chronologicallynorganized events, with a fairnshare devoted to vast movements, greatnindividuals, culturally productivengroups. I still believe that this is the bestnpedagogical method to develop in thenyoung: a sense of time and proportionnas things grow, reach their zenith, andnweaken, until routine ossifies them.nBraudel’s approach is, at least, a questionablenmethod of teaching history. Ineven suggest that it is confusing —nunless the reader has benefited from anchronological history that clearly indicatesnthe oudines beforehand. France’snlatest historians — and these post-nBraudelians form a brilliant cluster —nrecommend a return to more tradition­nnnal ways, because they have found thatnyouth taught a la Braudel has learnednnothing and, in addition, has lost preciselynthe sense of identification withnthe nation. The curriculum is nownundergoing a reevaluation. Curiously,nit is more strongly opposed by thenso-called conservative right than by thensocialist left. While the former puts itsnhopes in the continent-wide supermarket,nthe latter, by celebrating 1789,nvolens-nolens rehabilitates history.nAt any rate, Fernand Braudel’s booknmay be an eye-opener, in two directions.nFirst, that history as a discipline isnnot at all dead; in fact, it has been alivenand well since the first historian, Herodotus.nAnd second, that history is anpassionate enterprise through whichnone may learn to love one’s ownnnation, one’s land,,one’s institutions. A_nfew years ago one academic slogan”was”nthat the West is a cancerous growth onnmankind’s annals (vide Stanford); readingnFernand Braudel is a cure for suchnreverse fanaticism.nThomas Molnar is the author ofnTwin Powers: Politics and the Sacredn(Eerdmans).nKings of the WildnFrontiernby Carl C. CurtisnThe Way to the Western Sea:nLewis and Clark Acrossnthe Continentnby David LavendernNew York: Harper and Row;n444 pp., $22.95nUntil 20 years ago, one could countnon Hollywood to produce at leastnone film every few years dealing withnearly American history. John Ford gavenus Drums Along the Mohawk in then1940’s, and Disney gave us the SwampnFox in the 1960’s. Such movies maynhave given the public only “popular”nhistory (before the 20th century wasnthere any other kind?), but they stillncarried the benefit of giving peoplen(young people especially) a desire tonlearn more about what they saw on thenscreen.nThese thoughts crossed my mind asn