The Popular Front in France: Defending Democracy, 1934-38

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This is the first full-length study in English of the Popular Front, the left-wing coalition which emerged in France during the 1930s in response to the threat of fascism and which went on to win the elections of 1936, giving France her first socialist premier, Léon Blum. After a brief narrative history of the Popular Front the book is organised thematically around the main historiographical debates to which the Popular Front has given rise. Among the issues considered are the origins of the strikes of 1936, the reasons for the failure of the Popular Front economic policy, the relationship between culture and politics in France in the 1930s and the causes of France's policy of non-intervention in the Spanish Civil War. The book views the Popular Front at three levels - as a mass movement, political coalition and government - and argues that it must not be seen just as a narrowly political phenomenon but as a political, social and cultural explosion which attempted to break down the barriers between all areas of human activity in the highly compartmentalised society of France in the 1930s. Even if the Popular Front ultimately failed in this aim it has acquired legendary status in France, and the epilogue to the book briefly examines the 'myth' of the Popular Front from 1936 to the present day.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This volume is the most comprehensive study in English, and perhaps in any language, of the French Popular Front...Jackson's book is now the basic work of reference and the fullest guide to more specialized literature on the French Popular Front." Robert O. Paxton, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"...careful and extremely well-informed survey. One of the many merits of this judicious book is [the author's] refusal to confine himself to the political, economic and diplomatic aspects of government." New Statesman and Society

"This book provides the first history of the French Popular Front in English, and fills that surprising gap with scholarly distinction...The author modestly disclaims any ambition to offer a work of sustained original research, but his mastery of the immense literature on the Popular Front is remarkable, and his analyses of rival interpretations are models of lucidity." International Affairs

" ambitious and original work based on a wide-ranging knowledge of the most recent published and unpublished research..." Modern and Contemporary France

"Julian Jackson has rendered a signal service in providing the first booklength history of the Popular Front in English, in a judicious survey which can serve as both an introduction to the subject and a guide for further exploration." Canadian Journal of History

"This is the first substantial history published in English of the French Popular Front. Its strengths and fair-mindedness are compelling. It provides summary, synthesis, and explanation and should serve to stimulate research that will result in the many special studies that are surely needed." Nathanael Greene, American Historical Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521312523
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/1990
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 369
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Table of Contents

List of illustrations; Preface; List of abbreviations; Introduction; Part I. Prelude to Power: 1. The origins of the Popular Front; 2. The leaders; Part II. The Explosion: 3. The social explosion; 4. The cultural explosion; Part III. The Exercise of Power: Peace, Bread And Liberty: 5. 'Liberty': defending democracy; 6. 'Bread': the Blum new deal; 7. 'Peace': the contradiction; Part IV. Coalition and Opposition: 8. The mystique of unity; 9. The view from the right; Part V. The End of the Popular Front: 10. Post-mortem; Appendices; Glossary; Notes; Bibliographical note; Index.

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