From Publishers Weekly
In France, it is called l'exode,
or "exodus": the flight from their homes of up to seven million residents before and during the German invasion of the country in May and June 1940 (events described in the bestselling novel Suite Française
). Diamond, who specializes in modern French history at the University of Bath, combed dozens of memoirs and diaries about the flight for this first major study in English. She notes a number of reasons for the mass internal migration, including a belief in the "atrocity propaganda" about Germany from WWI; fears that the Germans would bomb Paris and other cities; a desire to avoid working for the Nazi war machine; and the flight of the French government itself from Paris. She captures how an initial "holiday spirit" gave way to a sense of displacement, loss and impoverishment for some and separation of families. Diamond also shows how the host communities, predominantly in France's south and west, often were overwhelmed by a doubling or tripling of their populations virtually overnight. Perhaps most important and interesting is her exploration of how Marshall Pétain exploited the exodus to discredit the government of the Third Republic. While Diamond's treatment of some topics, like fatalities during the exodus, is cursory, this is a solid work on a socially convulsive episode of WWII. 22 b&w photos. (June)
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"Gives new insight into the significance of the trauma of 1940 for French people and makes plain the political fallout of rapid military defeat plain." H-France
"Diamond's book is an important resource."--Journal of Modern History