The Ascending Republic: Aeronautics, Culture, and Politics in France, 1860-1914 explores how France, through its relationship to ballooning, became the center of pre-WWI aeronautics. By tracing how aeronauts navigated the interstices of politics, culture, and gender to rehabilitate the balloon (an artifact that became discredited soon after its invention in 1783), it shows how French civil society cultivated a thriving form of early airmindedness decades before the advent of the airplane—one that encompassed such distinct cultural strands as sacrificial patriotism, aristocratic modernity, colonial anxiety, and technological cosmopolitanism. Ballooning became a patriotic endeavor that people from all political stripes could get behind, and was a key practice in helping shape the image of France as a nation in which technology, quality, and style came together in a single package. The Ascending Republic incorporates from and contributes to a variety of fields—from the history of science and technology to celebrity studies and the history of civil society in Third Republic France.
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