The Other France

 Modernizing the Provincial City does not tell us anything we did not already know about how the French became and are becoming what they have been and are.

Issue: Winter 1998-1999

Rosemary Wakeman, Modernizing the Provincial City: Toulouse, 1945-1975 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998), 323 pp., $45.

Toulouse, metropole of the Languedoc or Midi-Pyrénées area in southwestern France, went through an exhilarating experience after World War II. The city grew. Not for the first time in its two thousand-year history; and not all by itself, since something similar was happening (after the long years of depression, war, defeat, and German occupation) in most other provincial centers. Still, the postwar development of Toulouse was dramatic, and distinctive enough to engage the attention of Rosemary Wakeman, an American student of French history and more specifically of urban affairs. Thanks to Harvard University Press, Ms. Wakeman has now published Modernizing the Provincial City: Toulouse, 1945-1975, a thoughtful study and quite worthy of general attention, even if it provides more detail about yesterday's bureaucratic struggles (over zoning regulations, planning conceptions, and real estate promotions) than most of us will ever want or need to know.

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