I have been listening to A Popular History of France From the Earliest Times, by François Guizot (1787-1874), who was a French historian and politician active in the 19th century. This is really a follow on to my previous foray into the writings of the communists Trotsky and Lenin. What I gather immediately is that the communists formulated their rhetoric on the French/German revolutions of 1848 and the earlier French revolution. These events in turn were sparked by earlier circumstances, so any sensible attempt to grapple with the subject will necessitate going back to the beginning. The beginning being Clovis (466-511) and his expansion of the Frankish kingdom together with embracing Nicaean Christianity.
Guizot's history is 100 hours of listening time, compared to the Bible at 40 hours. Thus, this is going into a fair amount of detail, yet still leaving out much from the chronicles from which it is derived. What has stood out so far is the degree to which the Norman conquest of England based on fraudulent claims was to create centuries of cross-channel claims and conflicts between England and France. I have now reached a chapter entitled Communes and the Third Estate, which I can't really comment on since it hasn't started yet. At the same time, however, I can note that these two institutions start in the feudal era. Guizot notes that there is considerable confusion in his own time regarding the meaning of Third Estate.
Thus, we have the wonderful observation that while each phase of history is a reaction to what went before, and tracing it must necessarily be taken in order, at each phase the reaction to the previous phases is based on poor understandings, which become worse as time goes on. Thus, at some point we must distinguish between the history and what people believed about the history. This is most important with the communists, since they are basically disgruntled children of the bourgeoisie who have decided to exploit class envy to bring the wrath of those less fortunate against the "rich", noting that the "rich" are those who the bourgeoisie is jealous of. In stirring up the envy, however, the upper class communists will habitually twist everything.
20 hours of listening are now complete, with 80 to go. One side benefit is that most of the history so far is parallel to what I have learned in a church history class. When this is done, there are two or three histories of the French Revolution to go through, and I should then be sufficiently prepped to dive into Marx and Engels!