Kaplan has reexamined the story of the 1945 trial and execution of one of the most famous French fascist writers, Robert Brasillach. A mediocre novelist but talented critic, Brasillach was an enthusiastic advocate of fascism and a hyperbolic antisemite. Although his collaborationist zeal was cooling by 1944, he had produced a damning record of exhortations and denunciations. A French literature professor, Kaplan examines with empathy and subtlety the personalities of the prosecutor -- who, like most French magistrates, had served the Vichy regime -- and Brasillach's flamboyant lawyer. She also dispels various myths about the jury's political leanings, showing that only one of its members was a communist. Touching on the criticisms of the French purge, she acknowledges that retribution was tougher on writers and journalists than on civil servants or entrepreneurs -- but she also shows that functionaries were not kept immune from sanctions. Ultimately, as Brasillach himself recognized, the trial was about the responsibility of a writer for his "fighting words" -- words that could move people to fateful acts and fierce crimes.