Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order / Edition 2

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Robert O. Paxton's classic study of the aftermath of France's sudden collapse under Nazi invasion utilizes captured German archives and other contemporary materials to construct a strong and disturbing account of the Vichy period in France. With a new introduction and updated bibliography, Vichy France demonstrates that the collaborationist government of Marshal P├ętain did far more than merely react to German pressures. The Vichy leaders actively pursued their own double agenda--internally, the authoritarian and racist "national revolution," and, externally, an attempt to persuade Hitler to accept this new France as a partner in his new Europe.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review

Tells us as much of the truth about Vichy as we are likely to have for a long time.... Paxton answers all the basic questions... in an even tone, with a vigorous style, allowing the devastating documents... to speak for themselves.

Los Angeles Times
A work of meticulous scholarship . . . lucidly, gracefully written . . . scrupulously fair.
New York Times Book Review
Tells us as much of the truth about Vichy as we are likely to have for a long time.
Paxton (emeritus, social sciences, Columbia U.) provides a new introduction and updated bibliography to his classic study, first published in 1972. It shows that the collaborationist government of Marshal P<'e>tain, in the wake of the Nazi invasion, pursued its own double agenda: internally, an authoritarian and racist "national revolution," and externally, an attempt to persuade Hitler to accept the new France as a partner. Paxton sees the case of the Vichy government as more than a historic accounting; in his introduction he writes, "An American who looks honestly at collaborationist France must judge not only with sorrow and pity, but with fear at what his own countrymen might do under equivalent stress." Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231124690
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 6/15/2001
  • Edition description: revised edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 438
  • Sales rank: 318,921
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert O. Paxton is Mellon Professor Emeritus of the Social Sciences at Columbia University. His other books include Parades and Politics at Vichy, Europe in the Twentieth Century, and French Peasant Fascism.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction to the 2001 Edition
Introduction to the Morningside Edition (1982)
Prologue: Summer 1940 3
I The French Quest for Collaboration, 1940-1942 51
Pierre Laval and the Paris Connection 63
The "New Policy," September-December 1940 69
The Meaning of December 13 92
The Cold Shoulder: Flandin and Darlan 101
Darlan's Grand Design 109
Darlan's Fall and Laval's Return: April 1942 131
II The National Revolution 136
Competing Visions 139
An Answer to Decadence 146
Moral Order: The Church 148
Moral Order: Education and the Young 153
Moral Order: The Family 165
France for the French 168
The State: Liberty and Authority 185
Return to the Soil 200
Escape from Class and Competition: Corporatism in Power 210
From Persuasion to Constraint: The Emerging Police State 221
The National Revolution and Fascism 228
III The Collaborators 234
Ins, Outs, and Notables 241
The French Civil War: 1934-37 243
The Revenge of the Minorities 249
Experts 259
Traditionalists 268
The Left at Vichy 273
IV Collaboration - 1942-44: Between Liberation and Revolution 280
Threats to the Social Order - 1: Resistance 291
Threats to the Social Order - 2: Second Front 299
Last French Bids for Collaboration: 1942-43 309
1944: The Dream of Peaceful Transition, the Nightmare of Civil War 326
V A Balance Sheet: The Legacy of Vichy 330
Breaks and Continuities 330
Vichy and French Society 352
Was Vichy a Lesser Evil? 357
Profits and Losses 374
A Moral Balance Sheet 380
App. A The War Question of January 1942 387
App. B Glossary of French and German Abbreviations 391
Bibliographical Note 392
Index 417
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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2007

    A reviewer

    Robert Paxton is the supreme authority on the Vichy regime. This, his seminal work, was originally published in the 1970s and has been updated with a new preface. Despite the availability of additional data, the book stands with very few qualifications as originally written. Vichy, despite the claims of it's many apologists, neither protected nor served France and the French, with the exception of various professional elites, who seamlessly transitioned from Petain's regime to the Fourth Republic and, in some instances, to the Fifth. Petain and his confreres met little, if any, indigenous resistance because virtually all Frenchmen were disgusted with the Third Republic and craved a more ordered and traditional form of government, an authoritarian one, in a word. Petain was happy to oblige, basing the regime on the assumptions that the war would be short, Germany would be victorious, the (despised) British holdouts would soon be defeated and, most importantly, domestic revolution would be avoided. This last point cannot be overestimated in the conservative, Catholic society of mid-century France. The leftist riots of February 6, 1934 left an indelible impression which Vichy could and did use to telling effect. It should be recalled that de Gaulle stood virtually alone. Most Frenchmen, especially those in military and government service chose to support the regime, even to the point of fighting the British in North Africa, not only in relatively well-known engagements at Mers el Kabir, but also in Syria and domestically in Dieppe. Vichy mostly hoped to achieve parity with Nazi allies in a German-dominated post-war Europe, also hoping to retain their colonial empire under exclusive French administration. Paxton recalls all these details and plenty more, along with a welter of statistical detail which somewhat slows the narrative. Even so, the work is exceptional and a classic of the historian's art.

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