Robert Tombs

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Robert Tombs
Born (1949-05-08) 8 May 1949 (age 70)
OccupationHistorian and academic
EmployerSt John's College, Cambridge

Robert P. Tombs (born 8 May 1949)[1] is a British historian of France, and professor of French history at St John's College, Cambridge. His specialism is nineteenth-century France, particularly the Paris Commune. His work focused on the political culture of the working classes, led him to revise a number of myths associated with the history of the Commune; in this, he is similar to the French historian Jacques Rougerie.

His first book, The War Against Paris, 1871, analyzed the role of the French army in the suppression of the Paris Commune.[2]

In 2006, with his wife, Isabelle Tombs, he wrote That Sweet Enemy: The French and the British from the Sun King to the Present, a history of the relationship between Britain and France.[3][4] A review in The Independent described it as "stronger on war than on peace... despite the twin authorship, it is a very English perspective, resolutely empirical, deeply anti-theory."[5] His wife, Isabelle Tombs (née Bussy), was born in France and is in charge of French training at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

In 2014, Tombs published The English and Their History, which was widely reviewed.[6][7][8][9][10]

His retirement was announced in August 2016.[11]

Major books and articles[edit]

  • The War Against Paris, 1871, Cambridge, CUP, 1981, 256 p.
  • Thiers 1797–1877: A Political Life, with J.P.T. Bury, London, Allen & Unwin, 1986, 307 p.
  • Nationhood and Nationalism in France: From Boulangism to the Great War 1889–1918 (editor), London, Harper Collins, 1991, 286 p.
  • France 1814–1914, London, Longman, 1996, 590 p.
  • The Paris Commune, 1871, London, Longman, 1999, 244 p.
  • Cross-Channel Currents: 100 Years of the Entente Cordiale, London, Routledge, 2004.
  • That Sweet Enemy: The French and the British from the Sun King to the Present, with Isabelle Tombs, London, W. Heinemann, 2006, 780 p.
  • Britain and France in Two World Wars: Truth, Myth and Memory, with Emile Chabal, London, Bloomsbury, 2013.
  • ‹See Tfd›(in French) Paris, bivouac des révolutions. La Commune de 1871 (Paris, bivouac of revolutions. The Commune of 1871), Paris, Libertalia, 2014.
  • The English and Their History: The First Thirteen Centuries, London, Penguin, 2014.


  1. ^ "Tombs, Robert P. 1949-". Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  2. ^ "Review of The War Against Paris, 1871, ; The March to the Marne: The French Army 1871-1914". The Journal of Modern History: 549–551. 1983. JSTOR 1878622.
  3. ^ Jeffries, Stuart (25 March 2006). "Interview: Stuart Jeffries meets Robert and Isabelle Tombs". the Guardian.
  4. ^ Thorpe, Adam (18 March 2006). "Review: That Sweet Enemy by Robert and Isabelle Tombs". the Guardian.
  5. ^ "That Sweet Enemy: the French and the British from the Sun King to the". 24 March 2006.
  6. ^ "A once and future realm". The Economist.
  7. ^ Davenport-Hines, Richard (17 November 2014). "The English and Their History review – 'a book of resounding importance to contemporary debates'". the Guardian.
  8. ^ "'The English and Their History,' by Robert Tombs". 31 December 2015 – via
  9. ^ McKay, Sinclair (16 December 2014). "The English and their History by Robert Tombs, review: 'brilliance and sly wit'" – via
  10. ^ Frum, David. "The Misunderstood Past (and Uncertain Future) of England".
  11. ^ Robert Tombs (editor/compiler) (August 2016). "Retirements". History Faculty Newsletter. Faculty of History, Cambridge. 7.

External links[edit]