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A French Tragedy: Scenes of Civil War, Summer 1944 (Contemporary French Culture and Society) Hardcover – July 15, 1996


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A respected literary theorist and cultural critic, Todorov's most recent books have increasingly delved into complicated issues of history and morality. This year's Facing the Extreme: Moral Life in the Concentration Camps looked at the heroism and?less epic but equally important?human decency in Nazi and Soviet camps. The overlooked events in the town of Saint-Amand Montrond are a microcosm both of his thinking on morality and of France during the war. A combination of confusion and misplaced enthusiasm caused local resistance fighters to conquer the town on D-Day only to discover the next day that they had jumped the gun and the Germans were still in charge. The fighters run for it, taking as hostage eight militiamen (members of the Petainist military police) and several women found with them?including Simone Bout de l'An, wife of the secretary general of the militia. Her husband, Francis, offers an ultimatum: his wife and the other female hostages, or he will start shooting friends and relatives of the resisters. After long, difficult negotiations by civilian leaders the women are exchanged. What had been something of a farce, turns into a true tragedy because the resisters, on the run from the Germans, kill their militiamen hostages. The brutal anti-Semite Joseph Lecussan takes his revenge on the area's Jewish population, ultimately killing nearly 70 innocent people. Todorov's history of this overlooked episode is methodical, a discourse on responsibility, morality and heroism. Writing scene by scene in present tense, he eschews portentousness for cool exactitude which makes the eventual horror of it all the more affecting.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Bulgarian-born Todorov (Facing the Extreme: Moral Life in the Concentration Camps, LJ 2/15/96) is the research director of the Centre Nationale de Recherche Scientifique in Paris His present work concerns a largely forgotten massacre that occurred in June 1944 in the town of Saint-Amand Montrond in central France. A contingent of the French Resistance captured the town and then retreated. They took with them, as hostages, several Vichy supporters. When members of Vichy's militia regained control of the town, they arrested and then murdered 70 Jews who had taken refuge there. Basing his sober, gripping analysis on an array of published accounts, archival documents, and interviews with eye witnesses, Todorov offers a story that has no clear-cut heroes or villains. He argues persuasively that the Resistance shared some of the blame for the fate of the victims. The tragic events in Saint-Amand demonstrate why this period remains so controversial within France yet today. Highly recommended for all libraries.?Thomas J. Schaeper, St. Bonaventure Univ., N.Y.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: Contemporary French Culture and Society
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Dartmouth; 1st edition (July 15, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0874517478
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874517477
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,946,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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