This is a fascinating account of France on a knife edge as it tries to come to terms with the aftermath of the occupation and re-establish its shattered economy and democracy. With the war ended the glue which held together the politically disparate elements of the Resistance is dissolved, freedom fighters have to find common ground with collaborators and everyone has to try to rebuild the country against the background of British, American and Russian interference with the ever-present threats of communist revolution or fascist dictatorship lurking in the background. Modern France could have turned out to be very different to the country we now know.
The story is told largely through the eyes of socialites, diplomats and the emerging group of left-bank, left-wing intellectuals who both shape and are shaped by events. Although this range of sources seems limited, the authors successfully use it to produce a framework which clearly sets out the events of the period and goes a long way to explaining the attitudes of the society which emerges. Even if one sometimes wishes that the voices and experiences of ordinary Parisians were more to the fore, this book is a very readable introduction to how France reinvented itself.
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