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France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944 Paperback – March 27, 2003

20 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199254576 ISBN-10: 0199254575 Edition: new ed

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

eople from other Allied countries joke that, according to the French, every one of them participated in the resistance to German occupation during WWII. Jackson, a professor of history at the University of Wales-Swansea, spares no one in exploring not only the events of wartime France, but also developments in historical perspectives on the collaborationist Vichy regime and the Resistance. Moreover, he looks forward to future revelations. Between these endpoints lies a convoluted landscape bearing little resemblance to the usual simplistic pictures. Jackson's excellent study is timely those who remember the occupation will not be around us much longer. It has been a generation since the last general history of occupied France, and during that time, scholars have done much research on which Jackson draws. Beginning his history with the formation of the politics and society of the Third Republic, he exposes France's past in all its contradictions and complexities: the Resistance forces' diverse membership, including women, Jews, farm workers and foreigners; the latent forces in French government and culture that allowed for an easy transition to the Vichy government; Marshal P‚tain's increasing popularity while support for Vichy flagged. In liberated Paris, de Gaulle alleged that the French Republic "never ceased to exist" during occupation. "According to this reinterpretation," writes Jackson, "most of the horrors inflicted on France had been the work of the Germans alone." This insightful, thoroughly researched book will be of interest to scholars and general readers, who will come away with a profound understanding of a crucial time in French history. Jackson does readers a service, for at least another generation. 3 maps.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

In this detailed analysis of an era that still haunts French society, Jackson (history, Univ. of Wales, Swansea; The Popular Front in France) asserts that the Vichy government was not an aberration grafted onto the French body politic by the conquering Germans. The repressive government that was established in that small southern French resort town was the expression of ideological currents that encompassed the anti-Semitic fascist convictions of several French political factions. The author is also quick to point out that the fractious Resistance movement was also a product of indigenous political convictions that reached back to the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Jackson thoroughly dissects the multilayered complexities of a nation at war with itself and shows how, in the final analysis, it was the persevering spirit of the average French citizen that prevailed during those "dark years." Jackson's reputation for meticulous scholarship is quite evident in this latest work, which supplants J.P. Azema's From Munich to Liberation 1938-1944 (Cambridge Univ. o.p.) as the definitive study on the Occupation years and should be in every French history collection. Jim Doyle, Sara Hightower Regional Lib., Rome, GA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; new ed edition (March 27, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199254575
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199254576
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 1.6 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #277,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

80 of 84 people found the following review helpful By S. MACPHERSON on May 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
In other readings of World War II, I had always felt I did not have a solid grounding in the history of Vichy France. I have been greatly intrigued for some time as to how a country like France could have collaborated to such a degree. This gap in knowledge, I hoped, could be filled by a general treatise on the subject. Having reviewed several books on Vichy France I chose 'France- The Dark Years, 1940-1944' as the one work upon which I would rely.
While I did admire the scope of the work, and have no argument that this book may be called the latest definitive source, be warned that this book is not written for those who do not have a working knowledge on the subject. The author does not spend time on set-up: the reader is presumed to know of not only the leading political figures in France during the 1930's-40's, but also those of greater obscurity. The list goes on with the presumptions of the author- we are supposed to know about newspapers of the era (of which there were many), political parties, both major and insignificant, and the names of resistance groups.
Again, this would not be critical if I had the requisite knowledge of the politics and society of France during this era, of which I do know some. But this book is written for the doctoral level student of this era in history, not for those seeking a more general overview.
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66 of 69 people found the following review helpful By pnotley@hotmail.com on April 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Thirty years ago Robert Paxton publishes his classic book on Vichy France which demonstrated both the vigor the Petain/Laval regime sought collaboration as well as the political failure and moral horror of their policies. At the same time Paxton also demonstrated both the widespread support Petain could count on, at least at the beginning, as well as the fact that the regime was not consistently reactionary but also had modernizing elements which the Fourth and Fifth Republics would build upon. Now Julian Jackson has provided his account of the dark years. What has he done to modify Paxton's account?
Like Jackson's two previous books on 1930s France, The Dark Years is based largely on secondary literature and memoir literature. Notwithstanding that Jackson's account is unusually thorough. He starts off with a discussion of the interwar years, which looks over such ingredients of Vichy as pacifism, the German threat, Action Francaise, the shock of the first world war and the Depression. He then discusses the Vichy regime, then goes on to discuss popular opinion about the occupation. There is then a large section on the Resistance, followed by one on the Liberation and the postwar Remembrance of the Occupation.
Ever since Paxton's book appeared people have commented on how the French have been unwilling to confront the shame of Vichy. Jackson's response to this is a breath of fresh air: "The problem with such comments is not only the unwarranted condescension which underlies them--the assumption that `we', the British, would have faced up to things much better in similar circumstances--but also the fact that they are so patently false....
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok HALL OF FAME on December 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Julian Jackson's history is the most distinguished account I've read on France during the period from 1940 through 1944. He makes an excellent case noting how the Vichy Regime was indeed part of a longstanding political tradition in France which went as far back as the Ancien Regime; he makes a similar observation of the Resistance, noting how its political philosophy could be traced directly back to the French Revolution. Jackson clearly notes the intense dislike - if not outright hatred - of many French towards their German occupiers, noting that such sentiments may have played a decisive part in ensuring the survival of more French Jews than their counterparts in other Nazi-occupied countries. Much to my surprise, he clearly demonstrates how support for the Vichy Regime came not only from a staunchly conservative elements - but also liberal, and indeed socialist elements - within French society. He also succeeds in noting how figures such as French resistance leader Jean Moulin and future French president Francois Mitterand underwent transformations - some major, but also minor - in their politics, eventually shifting their support from the Vichy regime to DeGaulle's Free French movement. Despite Vichy's reputation for cultural as well as political repression, Jackson shows that cultural activities ranging from the fine arts through film not only survived, but also flourished, at least during the early history of the Vichy Regime.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Charles I. Stubbart on September 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
Although I knew something about de Gaulle, Vichy, "The Resistance," etc; usually these topics were tangential to some other main topic I was reading. Jackson's BIG book set me straight on everything I always wanted to know about Vichy, the Germans, and the Free French, Petain, de Gaulle, etc.
France 1940-1944 covers highly controversial "history."
Almost none of the various personalities and political parties survive Jackson's detailed analysis without taking their "lumps." France 1940-1944 presents an ambiguous, painful story about collaboration, indifference and a few resisters.
Surely the French will never escape the shame of Vichy
Jackson often delivers clever insights and mixed judgments. Jackson gives you enough background to evaluate some of the following puzzles:
·Why did Churchill recognize De Gaulle in 1940, instead of the Vichy Government?
·Why did FDR try so hard to get rid of "Le Grand Charles" (De Gaulle)?
·Why did many French literally cheer when France lost the War with Germany in June 1940?
·Why did powerful and influential French express such bitterness, invective, and hatred against Jews?
·Why did the "Resistance" accept De Gaulle in 1944? After all, thousands of French fought and died inside France while De Gaulle remained safely in England and Africa.
·Why didn't the Communists launch a takeover at the time of the Liberation?.
After you read this book you will understand some of the powerful destabilizing forces in French society. But Dark Years is a long book, it's serious reading, and it's written in
a rather academic style -- dull if you are not really intrigued by France, the French, De Gaulle, the Germans, the Jews, etc.
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