Monet in Babcock State Forest
I've been listening to a "books on tape" about mid-nineteenth century France. While it is in large measure about the struggles faced by the artists (such as Monet) known as the Impressionists, it is also a great sweeping history lesson about the time.
A 13 CD set entitled: The Judgment of Paris, by Ross King. It's available at Amazon.com for $28 [usd] but I got it for 3 bucks at an Ocean State Job Lot remainders bin.