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France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944 [Kindle Edition]

Julian Jackson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The French call them 'the Dark Years'...

This definitive new history of Occupied France explores the myths and realities of four of the most divisive years in French history.

Taking in ordinary people's experiences of defeat, collaboration, resistance, and liberation, it uncovers the conflicting memories of occupation which ensure that even today France continues to debate the legacy of the Vichy years.

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Product Description


wide-ranging ... The story is regularly enriched by nuggets of unexpected information. (Patrick Marnham, Spectator, 7 July 2001)

a valuable addition to the continuing debate over France's collapse in 1940 and the Vichy government's subsequent cooperation with the Nazis (Contemporary Review)

this analysis reads very fresh, as though what happened might have turned out differently (The Guardian)

About the Author

Julian Jackson is a Professor of History at the University of Wales, Swansea.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1743 KB
  • Print Length: 690 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0199254575
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (26 April 2001)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006NTJT4U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #234,680 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
82 of 84 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is a substantial survey of the years of the Nazi occupation of France. Although there are some excellent English and American books on this subject or on aspects of it, I have not yet come across anything in English which is as comprehensive.
The autor starts with a section called " Anticipations " which sets the scene by examining some aspects of France between the two world wars. This section ends with an account of the rapid defeat of France in the Spring and Summer of 1940.
The other sections of the book deal with collaboration, the Vichy government, everyday life, the Resistance,and, perhaps the most interesting section, the Liberation and after.
The book is massively well-informed. The author makes references to a huge number of sources: these range from standard history texts through unpublished Ph.D theses to French newspapers published at the time, both those produced by the underground presses and those which openly supported the Vichy régime and the Nazi occupiers.
The book provides some valuable correctives to some of the myths and legend which persist about the Resistance and the Vichy state. He rejects completely the idea that Jean Moulin was a communist sleeper, for example. Julian Jackson finishes his study with an epilogue called " Remembering the Occupation " which shows that the events of 1940 - 1944 are still a subject of serious and sometimes acrimonious discussion.
In just over six hundred pages this book covers a big subject in fascinating detail. It should be on the bookshelf of anyone interested in tis period. It deserves to become a classic in its field.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By docread
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This comprehensive account despite its length is an enjoyable read that benefits from the cumulative scholarship of recent years .It gives a balanced indepth view of the workings of the Vichy regime and describes the gradual build up of the home grown Resistance and its fraught relationship with the Gaullist Free French.The author scrutinises the profound dilemmas facing the French intellectuals and the tough choices that divided them.He examines the ambivalent attitudes of the French civil service and formal state agencies in their attempt to promote some autonomy of action and a semblance of legitimacy in the face of German intransigence.He doesn't offer a detailed social history of the occupation period and how it affected the different segments of the population in their daily lives.However in a tangential way by examining the motives of those who threw themselves into either collaboration and denunciation , attentism or joining the " Maquis",the text sheds considerable light on the physical and psychological hardships caused by the ugly daily realities of the German occupation that led to diverse coping mechanisms by individuals or to dramatic shift in attitudes.

It follows the aftermath of the occupation by critically examining the various post war myths propounded by the Gaullists on the one hand and the communists on the other about the reality of the Resistance.The whole period remains as divisive as ever in contemporary France witness the political turmoil resulting from the trials of Klaus Barbie and Maurice Papon.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MAGISTERIAL! 28 Jun. 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I can appreciate some of the uncertain comments about this book. It would be a mistake for anyone who knows little of the background to use this as a base for study of this climactic period. Jackson is a historian's historian! He expects readers to know the basic facts, and hopes that his researches will encourage others to look further - and encourages readers to do so!

I know this period pretty well, and was particularly interested because I have a draft novel set in the Vichy period. Some facts, I thought, and background info, would be great. I only received my copy from you a few days ago - brilliant service, as always - and I've only reached page 60, but already I've learned so much! I cannot see this book being superseded for a generation.

It's hard for us who are not French to understand why the issues which Jackson covers remain so significant - I suppose our own British and Irish parallel would be 1690 and the Battle of the Boyne, 400+ years ago! But then and now the issues in Ireland remain reasonably clear cut, this was never the case in France.

Astonishing to read that in the autumn of 1944 - while there were still German soldiers fighting in France, De Gaulle set up a very high powered Cttee to encourage study of all aspects of the period. That Cttee still meets, and publishes reports - and universities have seminars at which historians and those directly involved (few of them now) can debate the issues.

Yes, it's a big book - but it has a lighter side! He tells of of a University conference not many years ago when two veterans of the resistance almost came to blows over what happened in Toulouse in 1944 - remember they must have been at least in their mid 70s!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Mega
Published 4 months ago by Michael Bilton
2.0 out of 5 stars "a historian`s historian"1?
The author is not writing a history of France during WW2, which is what I was led to expect, but rather is trying to explain the way that France has written it's own history with... Read more
Published 4 months ago by RICHARDECCLES
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent..Extremely informative
Published 5 months ago by Ian J Foster-Thorn
3.0 out of 5 stars boring
Abandoned this book halfway through as I found it quite heavy going.Seemed to repeat itself with each person the author was
writing about.
Published 17 months ago by jeff
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough and elucidating
This book shines a light on a vital period of French history and the relentless pressures facing an occupied nation. Read more
Published 21 months ago by james john
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
I am already half way through and am finding it extremely interesting - particularly the accounts of those who lived through those times
Published on 28 Jun. 2013 by paton sheila lynne
4.0 out of 5 stars Dense but good to understand the complexities of France's war
As someone that grew up watching "Allo, allo" and other movies and series that romanticized life in occupied France, this book was a good eye-opener about the complexities... Read more
Published on 23 May 2013 by Miquel
4.0 out of 5 stars France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944
The writing style is a bit dense, and more suited to academia than i would have liked. But because I was genuinely fascinated by the period, I ploughed on to the end. Read more
Published on 3 Jan. 2013 by phillip crane
5.0 out of 5 stars The bible of Vichy studies
Julian Jackson's book is so well thought-out, so utterly comprehensive and so intelligent that it has become like a bible to those studying France's dark years. Read more
Published on 2 May 2010 by S. K. A. Kitson
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
Here was a subject that I knew very little about, apart from the high cost in Allied lives to move the occupying Germans out of France, and more importantly how General De Gaulle... Read more
Published on 9 Feb. 2010 by T. C. Harrison
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