Mission and Betrayal: Working with Franklin Roosevelt to Help Save Britain and Europe, 1940-1945
By René de Chambrun
Hoover Institution Press, 1993, 221 pp.
Chambrun, a direct descendant of Lafayette and elegantly connected in France and the United States, came here after the fall of France, a defender of Petain and of France's armistice. With F.D.R.'s approval he urged American audiences in the summer of 1940 to believe in Britain's ability to resist. That was his "mission"-the "betrayal" describes FDR's alleged reneging on a promise to arrange for the sending of food to unoccupied France. Chambrun, the son-in-law of Pierre Laval, casts Harry Hopkins, "the number one friend of Stalin in the United States," as the chief villain in the betrayal. Chambrun eventually returned to occupied Paris but, in retrospect, seems to have had blinders on; in a book that depicts high living on both sides of the Atlantic-champagne and oysters everywhere-he barely mentions the atrocities of the time. This is an insidious, unpersuasive piece of self-justification. It has some details of archival and anecdotal interest, but above all it is an unintended revelation of the vindictive obtuseness of a certain kind of pro-Vichy public figure.