Films like The Sorrow and the Pity and Lacombe Lucien, as well as recent scholarship, have replaced the old Gaullist myth of Nazi-occupied France and "a nation of resisters" with a new myth of "a nation of collaborators." John Sweets's provocative assessment challenges both stereotypes.
From evidence gathered at Clermont-Ferrand, the largest town near Vichy, the Occupation capitol, Sweets found the French far less devoted to Petain than some have argued, and far more supportive of de Gaulle than has been suspected. The New Order was emphatically rejected by most of the French, he concludes, and the numbers involved in the Resistance were larger than has been recognized by previous accounts.
Choices in Vichy France is a compelling work of social history. Drawing on extensive archival research, interviews, and private correspondence, Sweets reconstructs the experiences of the individual men and women in Clermont-Ferrand to understand the dilemmas that Occupation set before them. Sweets found that everything was made difficult and complex by the Occupation; few decisions were simple and many had potentially serious consequences. He concludes that our stereotyped notions of "resistance" and "collaboration" are inadequate to describe the reality of people's behavior under the extreme circumstances of war and occupation.
About the Author:
John F. Sweets is Professor of History at the University of Kansas at Lawrence and the author of The Politics of Resistance in France.
An important revisionist study of the German occupation of France
·Overturns stereotypes about "collaboration" and "resistance"
·"His research is exemplary...clearly and forcefully written."Robert O. Paxton