This study of France examines the nation-building process of continual re-creation and re-invention over more than two hundred years. It explores the complex task of creating unity while reconciling diversity, be it regional, religious or cultural, in a nation profoundly divided since the Revolution. Divided into three sections covering the invention of French history, experience and identity, it seeks to integrate more conventional political history with an examination of nation-building from the margins and through manifold images and representations of the nation. Themes such as social conflict, civil war and revolution, identity and difference, gender, colonialism and decolonisation, religion, material and popular culture, and the devastation of war are examined in light of the evolution and continual reinvention of France. This new study will be of interest not only to students of modern and contemporary France, but also to those who want to understand the ways in which national identities are created and evolve within modern society.