Books: Death of a Style

EPITAPH FOR KINGS by Sanche de Gramont. 480 pages. Putnam. $6.95.

"It is by their way of sneezing or of wearing down their heels that a condemned people can be recognized," wrote the French playwright Jean Giraudoux. In his report on 18th century France in the shadow of the guillotine, Sanche de Gramont, Parisian journalist and historian (The Secret War, The Age of Magnificence), has done a heel measurement and sneeze count on his country's monarchy in its declining years. His conclusion confirms Giraudoux's epigram: The monarchy literally lost its head when it...

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