This volume about the Vichy years and the German Occupation of 1940-1944 uses as a starting point Robert Paxton's Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order, which provided a meticulously documented portrait of a nation consumed by indecision and self-doubt. The essays by the foremost scholars in the field place the Occupation of France in the context of other episodes in French history, and in the context of other occupied countries during World War II. They consider communities of belief during the Vichy years, examine how the experience of war and occupation shaped the everyday lives of people, and look at the ongoing reconstruction of the memory of the Vichy years. This collection of essays takes up where Paxton left off and shows how the last twenty-five years of scholarship have made problematic the tidy categories used to describe behaviour during the Vichy years. The authors point to new directions in the field and address both the myth of the 'nation of forty million resisters' that Paxton demolished and the creation of a new myth -- that the French have failed or refused to confront their past.
'Here is, finally, an emerging quest to examine the impact of the regime on everyday life, and to explore the interactions between Vichy agents and the lower levels of the political system ... France at War offers an excellent guide to the continiuing dilemmas posed by the Vichy period.' Times Literary Supplement 'Much more than a straightforward celebration of remarkable scholarship.The chapters by an array of well-established French and Anglophone historians are both individually impressive and jointly coherent ... does not shy away form the moral implications of explaining and,to some extent, normalizing collaboration and its consequences'. The International History Review 'France at War is a kind of_festschrift_-the best kind, substantial and suggestive-for Columbia's Robert Paxton. Twenty-three historians-French, British and American-contribute brief but meaty, informative, and densely argued essays on collaboration, resistance, anti-Jewish politics, bureaucracy, continuities, discontinuities, memory, and history in the years of Vichy and Occupation. The rick potluck buffet of thought-provoking pieces provides a glowing tribute to a fine historian, but also to the practice of history, and to the variety, evolution, and possibilities of the complex issues that historians tackle. The title alone seems wrong, or, at least, not explicit. Who was France at war with from 1940-1944? Only with itself.' Eugen Weber, Phi Beta Kappa Key Reporter 'An excellent survey of the current 'state of play' of the historiography of Vichy France and a series of suggestions about what new directions research might take.' Journal of Contemporary History 'This book will constitute a regular port of call for anyone seriously interested in the Occupation, and will be regularly used by undergraduates ... The quality and range of the essays on offer can only act as an inspiration.' French History 'This volume brings together 20 of the most accomplished historians of the Vichy period. All make fresh and original contributions, and the result is a volume that will be indispensible to historians of modern France.' Social History