10 books like The Vichy Syndrome

By Henry Rousso, Arthur Goldhammer (translator),

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Vichy Syndrome. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Suite Française

By Irene Nemirovsky,

Book cover of Suite Française

I’ve chosen this book not just for the incredible picture it paints of German occupation, but for the story of its survival. Irène Némirovsky was a Ukrainian-Jewish author living in Paris with her young family until she was denied French citizenship and forced to flee to the French countryside. In July 1942 she was arrested during a period of vicious roundups by the Germans and transported to Auschwitz, where she died a month later from typhus. Irène’s two daughters were amongst the crowd that gathered daily outside the Hotel Lutetia in Paris, where returnees from concentration camps were processed after the liberation of France. Her daughter Denise kept the notebook containing Suite Française for fifty years before realising what it contained, and Irène’s masterpiece was finally published in 2004.

Suite Française

By Irene Nemirovsky,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Suite Française as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1941, Irene Nemirovsky sat down to write a book that would convey the magnitude of what she was living through, not in terms of battles and politicians, but by evoking the domestic lives and personal trials of the ordinary citizens of France. She did not live to see her ambition fulfilled, or to know that sixty-five years later, "Suite Francaise" would be published for the first time, and hailed as a masterpiece. Set during a year that begins with France's fall to the Nazis in June 1940 and ends with Germany turning its attention to Russia, "Suite Francaise" falls…


Strange Defeat

By Marc Bloch,

Book cover of Strange Defeat

Marc Bloch was a prominent French historian, who specialized in Medieval social history during the years between the two world wars of the twentieth century. He was a major figure in the formation of the “Annales School” which focused on the study of history with an emphasis on long-term developments in social history. Of Alsatian-Jewish background, he wrote the book Strange Defeat during the summer of 1940, following the rapid defeat and conquest of France by Nazi Germany. Bloch’s book was published in France after the war, in 1946, but he did not live to see it. He was able to maintain a professorial position at the University of Montpelier in southern France but, after joining the Resistance, was captured, tortured, and executed in 1944. In Strange Defeat, Bloch examined the long-term causes of the 1940 defeat, focusing on the failure of the French military leadership to adjust to…

Strange Defeat

By Marc Bloch,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Strange Defeat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A renowned historian and Resistance fighter - later executed by the Nazis - analyzes at first hand why France fell in 1940. Marc Bloch wrote Strange Defeat during the three months following the fall of France, after he returned home from military service. In the midst of his anguish, he nevertheless "brought to his study of the crisis all the critical faculty and all the penetrating analysis of a first-rate historian" (Christian Science Monitor). Bloch takes a close look at the military failures he witnessed, examining why France was unable to respond to attack quickly and effectively. He gives a…


Journal à quatre mains

By Benoîte Groult, Flora Groult,

Book cover of Journal à quatre mains

A funny and moving account of life in occupied Paris by two young sisters, one sensible and studious, the other fun-loving. Written in diary form by each sister in turn, hence the ‘four hands’. Some signs of touching up with hindsight before publication in 1962. There is an English translation, ‘Diary in duo’ (1965) but currently out of print.

Journal à quatre mains

By Benoîte Groult, Flora Groult,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Journal à quatre mains as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nouvelle édition en 2002


Bad Faith

By Carmen Callil,

Book cover of Bad Faith: A Forgotten History of Family, Fatherland and Vichy France

Plenty of Resistance activity in the Lot, certainly, but it was also the home of the vicious anti-semite Louis Darquier de Pellepoix, who rounded up many Jews to their deaths on behalf of the Vichy Government. Years later, Carmen Callil, founder of Virago, was seeking psychiatric help when she came across his daughter Anne, a psychiatrist, who had been abandoned by her despicable parents.

It was Anne’s death by suicide that set Callil off on a stunning attempt to track the life of Darquier, a drunkard, a rapist, and a man of few if any redeeming features. He disgraced his family and native town, where his father was mayor of Cahors, capital of the Lot. He was sentenced to death but, protected by Franco, died a free man in Spain.

“Only lice were ever gassed at Auschwitz” was his mantra as he sent children off to the gas chambers.

Bad Faith

By Carmen Callil,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Bad Faith as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This brilliant book tells the story of one of history s most despicable villains and conmen Louis Darquier de Pellepoix, Nazi collaborator and Commissioner for Jewish Affairs , who managed the Vichy government s dirty work, controlling its Jewish population. orn into an established, politically moderate family, Louis Darquier ( de Pellepoix was a later affectation) proceeded from modest beginnings to dissemble his way to power, continually reinventing himself in conformity with an obsession with racial purity and the latent anti-Semitism of the French Catholic Church. He was the ultimate chancer- always broke, always desperate for attention, social cachet, women…


The Banquet Years

By Roger Shattuck,

Book cover of The Banquet Years: The Origins of the Avant-Garde in France, 1885 to World War I

A perpetually useful and inspiring book. Shattuck’s study of modern art in France came out in 1955 and remains a lively source for understanding how key artists—Alfred Jarry, Henri Rousseau, Erik Satie, and Guillaume Apollinaire—absorbed and reshaped traditions in writing, painting, and music, and launched the ethos of avant-garde aesthetics in the 20th century. A master storyteller, Shattuck situates his artists in their time, place, and culture with novelistic flair.

The Banquet Years

By Roger Shattuck,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Banquet Years as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Flaubert and Madame Bovary

By Francis Steegmuller,

Book cover of Flaubert and Madame Bovary: A Double Portrait

One of the most moving accounts I know of how literary creation takes place. With extraordinary sensitivity, Steegmuller reveals the mind and soul of the perturbed young bourgeois, Gustave Flaubert, and shows him growing, bit by bit, page by page, into the writer who set new terms for the art of the novel for the next hundred years. Art remains a mystery, but Steegmuller brings us uncannily close to the heart of it.

Flaubert and Madame Bovary

By Francis Steegmuller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Flaubert and Madame Bovary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Francis Steegmuller's beautifully executed double portrait of Madame Bovary and her maker is a remarkable and unusual biographical study, a sensitive and detailed account of how an unpromising young man turns himself into one of the world's greatest novelists. Steegmuller starts with the young Flaubert, prone to mysterious fits, hypochondriacal, at odds with and yet dependent on his bourgeois family. Then, drawing on Flaubert's voluminous correspondence, Steegmuller tracks his subject through friendships and love affairs, a trip to the Orient, nervous breakdown and tenuous recovery, and finally into the study, where a mind at once restless and jaded finds a…


The Drunken Boat

By Arthur Rimbaud, Mark Polizzotti (translator),

Book cover of The Drunken Boat: Selected Writings

Rimbaud is the inescapable, volcanically talented, revolutionary poet of late 19th century France, the boy who had mastered the classical idioms and forms of the art by the time he was fifteen, and by age eighteen was reinventing poetic language both in the prose poems of Illuminations and in visionary irregular lyrics. He stopped writing poetry at age twenty, but the poems he left behind helped to open the door to modern poetry around the world.

The Drunken Boat

By Arthur Rimbaud, Mark Polizzotti (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Drunken Boat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A new translation of the best and most provocative work by France's infamous rebel poet.

Poet, prodigy, precursor, punk: the short, precocious, uncompromisingly rebellious career of the poet Arthur Rimbaud is one of the legends of modern literature. By the time he was twenty, Rimbaud had written a series of poems that are not only masterpieces in themselves but that forever transformed the idea of what poetry is. Without him, surrealism is inconceivable, and his influence is palpable in artists as diverse as Henry Miller, John Ashbery, Bob Dylan, and Patti Smith. In this essential volume, renowned translator Mark Polizzotti…


The Collaborator

By Alice Kaplan,

Book cover of The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach

An expert in French fascism, Kaplan meticulously documents the career and the fate of the anti-Semitic, collaborationist novelist and journalist, Robert Brasillach. He was one of the few prominent intellectuals executed after the Liberation in France. His trial in late 1944 and execution in February 1945 put on the public stage the drama the country had just experienced: the Occupation, collaboration with the Nazis, the Resistance. As Kaplan presents it, Brasillach’s eloquent defense lawyer, the equally eloquent prosecutor, and Brasillach himself articulated the collision of visions of what it meant to be French and what it meant to be a patriot (or a traitor), arguments that still agitate France today. 

The Collaborator

By Alice Kaplan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Collaborator as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On February 6, 1945, a 35-year-old French writer and newspaper editor named Robert Brasillach was executed for treason by a French firing squad. He was the only writer of any distinction to be put to death by the French Liberation government during the violent days of score-settling known as the Purge. In this book, Alice Kaplan, author of the memoir "French Lessons" tells the story of Brasillach's rise and fall: his emergence as the golden boy of literary fascism during the 1930s, his wartime collaboration with the Nazis, his dramatic trial and his afterlife as a martyr for French rightists…


Vichy France

By Robert O. Paxton,

Book cover of Vichy France

First published in 1972, this book significantly altered the views of French collaboration with the Nazi German occupiers during the Second World War. During the immediate postwar years, many in France maintained that the Vichy government of Marshal Philippe Pétain and its supporters had done everything possible to resist and subvert the German occupiers and that the Resistance and the Pétain government had been part of the same struggle, the “sword and shield” of France against the German occupiers. Writing at a time when most relevant French archives were closed to historians and using German archival material that was captured during the war, Paxton showed that contrary to the Vichy government’s being a shield, it had in fact more actively supported the Germans while establishing an authoritarian government aligned in many ways with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. This book altered French views of the war to the point where…

Vichy France

By Robert O. Paxton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Vichy France as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Robert O. Paxton's classic study of the aftermath of France's sudden collapse under Nazi invasion utilizes captured German archives and other contemporary materials to construct a strong and disturbing account of the Vichy period in France. With a new introduction and updated bibliography, Vichy France demonstrates that the collaborationist government of Marshal Petain did far more than merely react to German pressures. The Vichy leaders actively pursued their own double agenda-internally, the authoritarian and racist "national revolution," and, externally, an attempt to persuade Hitler to accept this new France as a partner in his new Europe.


France Under the Germans

By Philippe Burrin, Janet Lloyd (translator),

Book cover of France Under the Germans: Collaboration and Compromise

Whereas historians and others in postwar France focused on French resistance to Nazi Germany during their Second World War occupation (1940-1944) relatively few in wartime France did in fact actively resist the Germans. Instead, while some in France either collaborated with the Germans after France’s defeat in 1940, many and arguably the majority chose a more passive accommodation to German supremacy. Especially in the early years of the occupation, French civilians often found the German soldiers more polite and seemingly respectful of the country they had just conquered than had been France’s British allies. Many in France, artists, intellectuals, business, and labor leaders, as well as military and clergy, were quite willing to accept German rule. Some hoped that German occupation would lead toward a more authoritarian French state, more in line with those of Germany and Italy at the time. Anti-Semitism was prevalent in France, where local people often…

France Under the Germans

By Philippe Burrin, Janet Lloyd (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked France Under the Germans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From 1940 to 1944, the French people adapted in a variety of ways to life under the domination of Nazi Germany. France under the Germans is the definitive study of the choices made by ordinary French citizens during that turbulent historical period, exposing for the first time the degree of their complicity with the Nazis. Acclaimed Swiss historian Philippe Burrin makes use of a wide variety of newly discovered sources: the records of businesses, industrial organizations, and banks; police files; and reports on mail censorship and telephone conversations. France under the Germans is an extraordinary analysis of the ways in…


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