This masterful audiobook is the first comprehensive reappraisal of the Vichy France regime for over 20 years. France was occupied by Nazi Germany between 1940 and 1944, and the exact nature of France's role in the Vichy years is only now beginning to come to light. One of the main reasons that the Vichy history is difficult to tell is that some of France's most prominent politicians, including President Mitterand, have been implicated in the regime. This has meant that public access to key documents has been denied and it is only now that an objective analysis is possible.
The fate of France as an occupied country could easily have been shared by Britain, and it is this background element, which enhances our fascination with Vichy France. How would we have acted under similar circumstances? The divisions and repercussions of the Vichy years still resonate in France today, and whether you view the regime as a fascist dictatorship, an authoritarian offshoot of the Third Reich or an embodiment of heightened French nationalism, Curtis's rounded, incisive book will be seen as the standard work on its subject for many years.
©2003, 2014 Michael Curtis (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
Middlemarch, Middlesex, Middlebrow
Excellent, densely researched, and eye-opening book. I, for one, will never see France in quite the same way again. They never underwent the violent catharsis of other Axis nations and, instead, seem to be reaching a resolution incrementally. I hope they get there; they've got a lot to resolve.
The narrator is dreadfully slow and non-fluent. His over-pronounced French names come after portentous pauses and sound like parody. It's a genuinely awful reading, which makes the fact-intensive writing that much more difficult to assimilate while cleaning up the kitchen or doing side lunges. Oh, and he pronounces "banal" to rhyme with "anal." Vraiment le coup de grâce.
The reader made it unbearable to listen.
Awful. Simply awful. Made it impossible to finish.
I gave this an overall rating of 4 because it is a mine of information, but it could have used some serious editing. I knew what to expect from reading other reviews, but I was hoping there would be at least some details of French life under occupation. This book is really an exhaustive indictment against not only the Vichy gov't but the French people as well. The few times the Resistance is mentioned, it is done so dismissively.
A good book on life under Nazi occupation is "Priscilla: The Hidden Life of an Englishwoman in Wartime France" by Nicholas Shakespeare.
Narration was not terrible, but not good either. I recommend listening at 2x normal speed. His French was excellent.
This would make a terrific documentary in the right hands.
I recommend it in spite of its flaws.
I love reading about WWII history and lately I have been very interested in modern French history - so I was very excited to purchase this audiobook as there are not many books available that focus on Vichy. Unfortunately this audiobook has almost no narrative. Rather it is a collection of recountings on how Vichy is culpable for the holocaust of its Jews. (Of course I already knew this before listening to the book.) This really could have been a good book if the author took the time to organize his information into a coherent narrative. If he even took the time to put the collection of events in chronological order - that would have been an improvement. As such, I could only make it half way thru the book until I just completely lost interest.
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