Between the outbreak of war with Austria in 1792 and Napoleon's final debacle in 1814, France remained almost continously at war, recruiting in the process some two to three million frenchmen--a level of recruitment unknown to previous generations and widely resented as an attack on the liberties of rural communities. Forrest challenges the notion of a nation heroically rushing to arms by examining the massive rates of desertion and avoidance of service as well as their consequences on French society--on military campaigns and the morale of armies, on political opinion at home, on the social fabric of local villages, and on the Napoleonic dream of bringing about a coherent and centralized state.
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