This is the first general study of politics and society in the Fourth Republic to be founded on extensive primary research. It approaches the period in terms of successful conservatism rather than thwarted reform, maintaining that conservatism in France was a more subtle, dynamic force than has previously been appreciated. Not the preserve of any one single party, conservative ideas were often defended by institutions outside the realm of explicit politics altogether, such as business associations, civil service departments and the law courts. It is proposed that conservatives did not simply return to French politics in 1945 untouched by the events of the previous five years. The experiences of Vichy, the occupation and the purges produced new kinds of political synthesis, making conservatives more dynamic and receptive to change than their 'progressive' opponents.
"Richard Vinen, a lecturer in history at King's College in London, has provided a convincing analysis of the complex bourgeois alliances in the Fourth Republic. His book faces squarely historiographical debates concerning the overall success of the regime and provides a far more detailed picture than heretofore available of how different bourgeois groups interacted and aided each other in the remaking of a neo-bourgeois France...It is necessary reading for all those engaged in graduate work on postwar France." Chiarella Esposito, History "...Vinen's special focus on the connections among the middle-class political parties, important business organizations...and the upper reaches of the civil service is unique...The great merit of Vinen's account, however, is to show that the post-World War II reconstruction of France began as a class affair in which, for a time, the bourgeousie triumphed over all others." The Historian