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Communiste et Rastignac

Christopher Caldwell: Bernard Kouchner, 9 July 2009

Le Monde selon K. 
by Pierre Péan.
Fayard, 331 pp., €19, February 2009, 978 2 213 64372 4
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... published an exposé accusing Kouchner of various intellectual, political and financial misdeeds. Pierre Péan is best known for having revealed that the dictator Jean-Bédel Bokassa, of the Central African Republic, had given diamonds worth millions of francs to Giscard d’Estaing, and for uncovering the extent of Mitterrand’s work for the Vichy ...

Veni, Vidi, Vichy

Jean-Pierre Chapelas, 9 March 1995

Une Jeunesse française: François Mitterrand 1934-1947 
by Pierre Péan.
Fayard, 615 pp., frs 160, September 1994, 2 213 59300 0
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... he doesn’t appear to have objected to the idea of co-operating in this with the government of Pierre Laval, himself one of the most hardline figures in the Marshal’s four-year reign. Indeed, the idea seems at times to have aroused his enthusiasm, to judge by the private letters that he wrote in that year. (The refusal of the Mitterrandistes to allow ...

A Few Pitiful Traitors

David Drake: The French Resistance, 5 May 2016

Fighters in the Shadows: A New History of the French Resistance 
by Robert Gildea.
Faber, 593 pp., £20, September 2015, 978 0 571 28034 6
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Occupation Trilogy: ‘La Place de l’etoile’, ‘The Night Watch’, ‘Ring Roads’ 
by Patrick Modiano, translated by Caroline Hillier, Patricia Wolf and Frank Wynne.
Bloomsbury, 336 pp., £18.99, August 2015, 978 1 4088 6790 7
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... shouldn’t waste time settling old scores. In Une Jeunesse française, published in 1994, Pierre Péan revealed that Mitterrand had worked for Vichy before joining the Resistance, and, sensationally, that he had been on friendly terms with Bousquet well into the 1980s. Mitterrand repeatedly refused to apologise for the behaviour of the French ...

Mon Charabia

Olivier Todd: Bad Duras, 4 March 1999

Marguerite Duras 
by Laure Adler.
Gallimard, 627 pp., frs 155, August 1998, 2 07 074523 6
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No More 
by Marguerite Duras.
Seven Stories, 203 pp., £10.99, November 1998, 1 888363 65 7
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... française, the first to examine François Mitterrand’s past as a young Vichy functionary, Pierre Péan also dug into the 1940-45 period of Duras’s life. Adler goes a step further to reconstruct the shadiest aspects of her character. Three interconnected episodes had been skirted around before Péan and ...

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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... what they called the ‘invasion métèque’, the foreign invasion. In 1994, the journalist Pierre Péan brought much of this to light in Une Jeunesse française: François Mitterrand, 1934-47. The president claimed that his early association with the nationalist right was the result of his upbringing in the Charente. In 1939 Mitterrand joined the ...

The Presidents’ Man

R.W. Johnson, 25 May 1995

Foccart Parle: Entretiens avec Philippe Gaillard 
Fayard/Jeune Afrique, 501 pp., frs 150, May 1995, 2 213 59419 8Show More
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... microphones which the Elysée might have placed there.) But Foccart kept his secret and even when Pierre Péan brought out his L’Homme de l’ombre in 1990 (subtitled ‘Jacques Foccart: l’homme le plus mystérieux et le plus puissant de la Ve République’), he made no reply – which is why his decision to go public at last is such a coup ...


Perry Anderson: The Fall of France, 2 September 2004

La France qui tombe 
by Nicolas Baverez.
Perrin, 134 pp., €5.50, January 2004, 2 262 02163 5
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La Face cachée du ‘Monde’: Du contre-pouvoir aux abus de pouvoir 
by Pierre Péan and Philippe Cohen.
Mille et Une Nuits, 631 pp., €24, February 2003, 2 84205 756 2
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... and soon outpaced, by a partner in the liberal centre. Le Débat, launched in a sleeker format by Pierre Nora under the auspices of Gallimard, had a more ambitious agenda. Nora opened the journal with a programme for intellectual reform. In the past, French culture, steeped in humanist traditions, had been dominated by an ideal of rhetoric that had led from ...

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