In the wake of the defeat of 1940, the French were compelled to come to terms with their country's national decline and to accept the need for fundamental change. The great debate over the reasons for France's defeat and the sources of its future renewal was one of the most distinctive features of these critical years. Here Shennan examines the contributions that each of the major political forces made to the debate and looks at each of its major themes. His reconstruction of the mental universe of French politicians and reformers during the 1940s casts light both on the period itself and on the roots of France's remarkable post war resurgence.
'excellent study ... essentially a study of the innumerable reform projects, plans and programmes hatched between 1940 and 1944 ... Shennan displays the results of impressive research ... and his book is also a thorough synthesis of recent historiography ... not the least of Shennan's impressive achievement is to convey most readably the excitement of a period when momentarily it seemed as if everything were possible.'
EHR, April 1993
`At a time when the kind of sustained and comprehensive scholarly investigation represented by the doctoral thesis is under official pressure in Britain, this book is a superb vindication of the genre, written too in lucid and penetrating prose.'
Times Literary Supplement
'His book is a model of meticulous academic scholarship. It has all the archival and secondary sources that a PhD examiner could want; it also benefits from the author's sure organisational control and capacity for balanced judgement.'
Modern and Contemporary France
'excellent study ... based upon a skilful blend of original archival research and synthesis of previously published work ... this impressive book will remain the standard work on the subject for a long time to come'
Geoffrey Warner, International Affairs, Vol 66 No. 4 Oct '90
`From a mass of often intractable materials, he has made a significant, readable and illuminating book about a twentieth-century success, a great national debate that had, all things considered, a happy outcome'.
John C. Cairns, Journal of European Economic History, Winter 1990.