The Vichy Syndrome: History And Memory In France Since 1944

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The Vichy Syndrome: History And Memory In France Since 1944

By Henry Rousso
Harvard University Press, 1991
384 pp. $37.50

A young French historian analyzes the successive and often contradictory efforts by French writers and artists to account for the dark years of Vichy and the terrible divisions of that time. This comprehensive account of shifting public opinion, myth-making, evasion and moments of truth traces the story from 1944 to the present and substantiates the author's hypothesis-that "internal quarrels left deeper scars than either the defeat or the German occupation." The French are still trying to grapple with the deep historic roots of Vichy's "National Revolution" and the Franco-French conflict of that time and later. The book examines-sometimes too laboriously-the dominant myths and their appeal and the slow efforts by historians to confront what Rousso calls "the civil war." A book of far-reaching and even immediate implications: the newly liberated countries in eastern Europe face similar tasks of judging a terrible past where collaboration and resistance are conventional categories that often becloud the complexities of life under oppression.

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