From the Liberation purges to the Barbie trial, France has struggled with the memory of the Vichy experience: a memory of defeat, occupation, and repression. In this provocative study, Henry Rousso examines how this proud nation—a nation where reality and myth commingle to confound understanding—has dealt with les années noires. Specifically, he studies what the French have chosen to remember—and to conceal.
Rousso has set out to provide not just another narrative of les années noires—the years of defeat, occupation, of the phantom ‘French State’ and the civil war—but a study of the way the Vichy episode has been perceived and perverted by the French ever since. The result is a brilliant and intemperate book that is also a tract for the times.
Succeeds as a practical demonstration, for a particularly vivid case, of how to study a people grappling with a past. It is remarkable how few similar works there are… One understands a historian’s hesitation before the poorly documented and ill-defined wider popular memory as a subject. Rousso shows us, however, how dramatic and revealing this genre can be.
This is an original and thought-provoking work, a ‘must’ for anyone interested in the political and cultural psychology of post-war France.
- 400 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
- Foreword by Stanley Hoffmann
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