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82 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent, detailed survey of an important subject
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...
Published on 17 Aug. 2001

versus
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 particular emphasis on the understanding of collaboration and resistance.Much space is given to the men who spoke for various political positions and the competing lobbying, propaganda and...
Published 9 days ago by RICHARDECCLES


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82 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent, detailed survey of an important subject, 17 Aug. 2001
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 The author makes references to a huge number of sources: these range from standard history texts through unpublished Ph.D theses to French newspapers published at the time, both those produced by the underground presses and those which openly supported the Vichy régime and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
5.0 out of 5 stars The best account available for this troubled period, 30 Jun. 2013
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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.This book offers a great insight into one of the most tragic events in modern French history and goes a long way to explaining not only the left/ right divisions in contemporary France but also the crucial importance for the Franco- German leadership of the European project as the only realistic means to abolish military conflict from the continent,bringing prosperity to its citizens and defending their human rights.One last remark , the reader would have benefited from a "who is who "list of the various historical actors as one becomes overwhelmed with the sheer number of names in the text.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MAGISTERIAL!, 28 Jun. 2011
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This review is from: France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944 (Paperback)
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! But they were united when a young female historian called for study of the position of women. "Ah yes," was their dismissive response, "They played their part!"

Following this theme, amazing to know the effect of the Establishment's obsession with France's declining birth rate from the 1870's! A plan in the early 20s to give men with many children - women didn't have the vote! - was narrowly defeated in the Senate, and abortion was outlawed as much because of the wish to push up the birth rate as of Catholic opposition.

For us in the UK and Ireland, France is our nearest neighbour. For anyone to really understand France and the French, this book is essential - but not an easy read for those who don't know the basic historical facts.
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars hard work..., 23 July 2002
I studied history but now I'm just looking for straight forward enjoyable narrative history. This is a well researched, well written book. However, I'm finding it very hard to work my way through, and often I've read a whole page without paying any attention to it as it is so dense and detailed. I would recommend this book if you are studying this at university, but if you want some bedside reading, think twice about it. The section on resistance is very good though.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the money!, 3 Dec. 2001
By A Customer
I have to say that Julian Jackson's book is excellent; quite the best
book on the subject I have ever read. It is immaculately researched,
well written, wide-ranging and more than worth the price the book shops
charge for it. For anyone with an interest in the subject it is a top
one-stop point of reference.
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2.0 out of 5 stars "a historian`s historian"1?, 17 May 2015
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This review is from: France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944 (Paperback)
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 particular emphasis on the understanding of collaboration and resistance.Much space is given to the men who spoke for various political positions and the competing lobbying, propaganda and alliances, but little is devoted to what was happening 'on the ground'. Mr. Jackson fails to describe the Nazi occupation.You could call the book an academic work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough and elucidating, 16 Dec. 2013
This review is from: France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944 (Paperback)
This book shines a light on a vital period of French history and the relentless pressures facing an occupied nation. If France was ever fully untitled before, these years shook the very foundations of that accord. Julian Jackson cleverly reminds us of the legacy of the French Revilution and the deep sores that still remain within some classes. Collaborators, communists, Gaullists and so many more ""ists" confuse and dilute the response to the aggressor terminally.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dense but good to understand the complexities of France's war, 23 May 2013
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Miquel (Barcelona, Catalonia) - See all my reviews
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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 of French society during the war, where several movements struggled for hegemony on both sides while most of the people just tried to survive. In addition to all the political and military action, the author provides also a dense decription of culural life and other aspects of French society during these years. Recommended reading if you are into this topic, but it is not a light book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, 9 Feb. 2010
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This review is from: France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944 (Paperback)
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 liberated Paris?
The subject was very well researched and gave insights into the thinking of successive French governments regarding military involvement in the European theatre from the 1900's to the formation of the "Free French State" of Vichy.
The book was detailed and at times "hard-going" and I had to re-read sections to better understand why decisions were taken at French ministerial/presidential level during periods of internal social unrest and European Politics in general,especially with Germany......
This book is a reference to the formation of Vichy and the collaboration that took place between the Vichy Authorities and Third Reich during WW2. It will certainly make you think !!!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The bible of Vichy studies, 2 May 2010
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This review is from: France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944 (Paperback)
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. It is perhaps not quite as readable as his 'The Fall of France' and I think it would require a certain amount of prior knowledge on the part of the reader. I would nevertheless highly recommend this to anyone interested in the period.
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France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944
France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944 by Julian Jackson (Paperback - 6 Mar. 2003)
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