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De Gaulle’s Debt

Patrice Higonnet: Moulin, the French martyr, 4 December 2003

Jean Moulin: Le politique, le rebelle, le résistant 
by Jean-Pierre Azéma.
Perrin, 507 pp., €24, April 2003, 2 262 01329 2
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... 37, he became the youngest prefect in France, but was not, I suspect, as pleasant a young man as Jean-Pierre Azéma makes him out to be in this excellent biography. In the late 1930s he became a friend and client of Pierre Cot, the rather dubious Popular Front Air Minister, whose help was spurned by de Gaulle in 1940. The collapse of May-June 1940 ...

In Order of Rank

Jeremy Harding: Paris 1940, 8 May 2008

Fleeing Hitler: France 1940 
by Hanna Diamond.
Oxford, 255 pp., £16.99, June 2007, 978 0 19 280618 5
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Journal 1942-44 
by Hélène Berr.
Tallandier, 301 pp., €20, January 2008, 978 2 84734 500 1
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... failure of French military deployments. In most cases, according to the World War Two historian Jean-Pierre Azéma, ‘the flight of civilians followed the retreat of the French armies and did not precede it,’ yet British observers in France assured Whitehall that congestion and chaos on the roads had been the critical vectors of defeat. That is why ...

Republican King

Philippe Marlière: François Mitterrand, 17 April 2014

Mitterrand: A Study in Ambiguity 
by Philip Short.
Bodley Head, 692 pp., £30, November 2013, 978 1 84792 006 5
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... found work in Vichy, at the heart of the Pétain regime, as a civil servant. The historian Pierre Azéma has described Mitterrand as a Vichysto-résistant: he began by supporting Pétain (and received the Francisque, the regime’s most prestigious decoration), while apparently helping resistance groups at the same time. By the beginning of 1943 he had left ...

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