100 books like Vichy France

By Robert O. Paxton,

Here are 100 books that Vichy France fans have personally recommended if you like Vichy France. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Strange Defeat

Bertram M. Gordon Author Of Historical Dictionary of World War II France: The Occupation, Vichy, and the Resistance, 1938-1946

From my list on France in World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child in New York, I was interested in history to the point where by third grade I had memorized the list of U.S. presidents beginning with George Washington. The world was more Eurocentric than now, and I was taken by what I saw as the richness of European history. Surrounded later by Leftist academics, I became interested in the Right. Why were so many, especially among the lower middle classes, drawn to the Right and fascism during the first half of the twentieth century? This led to my interviewing and studying World War II pro-Nazi French collaborators. Later I branched into food history and the history of tourism.

Bertram's book list on France in World War II

Bertram M. Gordon Why did Bertram love this book?

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…

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…


Book cover of The Vichy Syndrome: History and Memory in France Since 1944

Bertram M. Gordon Author Of Historical Dictionary of World War II France: The Occupation, Vichy, and the Resistance, 1938-1946

From my list on France in World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child in New York, I was interested in history to the point where by third grade I had memorized the list of U.S. presidents beginning with George Washington. The world was more Eurocentric than now, and I was taken by what I saw as the richness of European history. Surrounded later by Leftist academics, I became interested in the Right. Why were so many, especially among the lower middle classes, drawn to the Right and fascism during the first half of the twentieth century? This led to my interviewing and studying World War II pro-Nazi French collaborators. Later I branched into food history and the history of tourism.

Bertram's book list on France in World War II

Bertram M. Gordon Why did Bertram love this book?

The role of France and the activities of the French during the Second World War German occupation, spanning the range from resistance through accommodation to collaboration, has been the subject of considerable literature on both sides of the Atlantic. First published in France in 1987, The Vichy Syndrome characterizes the memory of the war years as “a past that doesn't pass away.” The book addresses the different ways in which the war years were remembered and helped popularize the study of historical memory, meaning the study not only of the events themselves but also how they are remembered and how these memories influence political and cultural life in succeeding generations. Rousso received France’s National Order of Merit in 1995 and in 2018 was chosen by President Macron to supervise the design of France’s new Memorial Museum of Societies Facing Terrorism.  

By Henry Rousso, Arthur Goldhammer (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Vichy Syndrome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the Liberation purges to the Barbie trial, France has struggled with the memory of the Vichy experience: a memory of defeat, occupation, and repression. In this provocative study, Henry Rousso examines how this proud nation-a nation where reality and myth commingle to confound understanding-has dealt with les annees noires. Specifically, he studies what the French have chosen to remember-and to conceal.


Book cover of France Under the Germans: Collaboration and Compromise

Bertram M. Gordon Author Of Historical Dictionary of World War II France: The Occupation, Vichy, and the Resistance, 1938-1946

From my list on France in World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child in New York, I was interested in history to the point where by third grade I had memorized the list of U.S. presidents beginning with George Washington. The world was more Eurocentric than now, and I was taken by what I saw as the richness of European history. Surrounded later by Leftist academics, I became interested in the Right. Why were so many, especially among the lower middle classes, drawn to the Right and fascism during the first half of the twentieth century? This led to my interviewing and studying World War II pro-Nazi French collaborators. Later I branched into food history and the history of tourism.

Bertram's book list on France in World War II

Bertram M. Gordon Why did Bertram love this book?

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…

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…


Book cover of France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944

Yehuda Moraly Author Of Revolution in Paradise: Veiled Representations of Jewish Characters in the Cinema of Occupied France

From my list on French theater and film during German occupation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am teaching Theater studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Among my courses, “The World of Theater in the Reflection of Cinema" was a notable one. My favorite film was Children of Paradise. However, I was taken aback when a friend questioned the film's alleged anti-Semitic elements. I scrutinized the character of the Old-Clothes Man, Josué, noticing his stereotypical Jewish traits. As my research went further, I discovered the original 1942 script, where Josué played a more significant role as an overt Jewish traitor, ultimately slain by the film's hero, Deburau. This revelation prompted extensive research in Paris and Jerusalem, uncovering veiled Jewish portrayals in other French films made during the German occupation.

Yehuda's book list on French theater and film during German occupation

Yehuda Moraly Why did Yehuda love this book?

I like very much the monumental book of Julian Jackson on Vichy and the French Occupation.

Despite its length, Jackson’s book remains engaging throughout. The book delves first into the formative years of Vichy. It sheds light on the political tensions that preceded this period. It elucidates how individuals from various political backgrounds were drawn to this attractive vision of societal rejuvenation. It emphasizes the unclear limits between right and wrong during this challenging era.

The book is very important both for students and researchers.

By Julian Jackson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The French call them 'the Dark Years'...

This definitive new history of Occupied France explores the myths and realities of four of the most divisive years in French history.

Taking in ordinary people's experiences of defeat, collaboration, resistance, and liberation, it uncovers the conflicting memories of occupation which ensure that even today France continues to debate the legacy of the Vichy years.


Book cover of Verdict On Vichy: Power and Prejudice in the Vichy France Regime

Boaz Dvir Author Of Saving Israel: The Unknown Story of Smuggling Weapons and Winning a Nation’s Independence

From my list on 21st century nonfiction about the Holocaust.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started conducting primary research about the Holocaust in the 1990s, when I spent a week interviewing my grandfather, a Holocaust survivor and a pious Hasid, about his life. Fascinated with the survival of his faith, I applied for and received a grant from the Religion News Service to explore spiritual aspects of the Holocaust. I also sought to answer my saba’s question: How did Israelis end up fighting their 1948 War of Independence with Nazi weapons such as the Mauser he had received? I answered it in the 2015 PBS documentary I directed and produced, A Wing and a Prayer, and the 2020 nonfiction book I wrote, Saving Israel.

Boaz's book list on 21st century nonfiction about the Holocaust

Boaz Dvir Why did Boaz love this book?

Making Cojot, a documentary about a Parisian business consultant who hunted down former Gestapo commander Klaus Barbie, prompted me to closely examine Vichy. This French national administration went out of its way to appease its Nazi occupiers during World War II. But the more answers I dug up, the more questions I had. Verdict on Vichy filled in many of the gaps. For instance, it provided a possible explanation as to why the judges presiding over Barbie’s 1987 trial in Lyon granted his request to sit out the proceedings, thus depriving his victims’ families the opportunity to look him in the eyes as they recounted some of his crimes against humanity. The judges might have pounced at the chance to hide Barbie, who was reportedly ready to spill the beans about French leaders such as then-President François Mitterrand who collaborated with the Nazis. Michael Curtis went to great lengths…

By Michael Curtis,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Verdict On Vichy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This masterful book is the first comprehensive reappraisal of the Vichy France regime for over 20 years. France was occupied by Nazi Germany between 1940 and 1944, and the exact nature of France's role in the Vichy years is only now beginning to come to light. One of the main reasons that the Vichy history is difficult to tell is that some of France's most prominent politicians, including President Mitterand, have been implicated in the regime. This has meant that public access to key documents has been denied and it is only now that an objective analysis is possible. The…


Book cover of Lisette's List

Susan J. Godwin Author Of Rain Dodging: A Scholar's Romp through Britain in Search of a Stuart Queen

From my list on women spies and ‘lost libraries’ of World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sadly, there is not one Jewish family in this world who does not have a connection to the Holocaust. I imagine that my pull towards World War II heroic women is become I am a Jewish woman. I have a passion for books and many of the characters in my choices share this passion. I also have a passion for Britain. France is not too shabby either; the Parisian setting in some of the books are descriptive and gripping.

Susan's book list on women spies and ‘lost libraries’ of World War II

Susan J. Godwin Why did Susan love this book?

This book stayed with me for days. I love color.

Susan Vreeland is also entranced by color, artistic creativity, and the transformative power of art. In Lisette’s List, the author portrays Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art by way of the fictional character, Lisette, in Provence, during WWII and the years after as France returns to ‘normal.’ She quotes Paul Cezanne, “Art is a religion.

Its goal is the elevation of thought,” Camille Pissarro, “Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing,” and Marc Chagall, “Art seems to me to be a state of soul more than anything else. Color is all. When color is right, form is right. Color is everything.”

Vreeland paints a story with words of color, of resilience, and of hope.

By Susan Vreeland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lisette's List as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Susan Vreeland, bestselling author of such acclaimed novels as Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Luncheon of the Boating Party, and Clara and Mr. Tiffany, comes a richly imagined story of a woman’s awakening in the south of Vichy France—to the power of art, to the beauty of provincial life, and to love in the midst of war.

In 1937, young Lisette Roux and her husband, André, move from Paris to a village in Provence to care for André’s grandfather Pascal. Lisette regrets having to give up her dream of becoming a gallery apprentice and longs for the comforts and sophistication…


Book cover of Suite Française

David Snell Author Of Sing to Silent Stones: Part One

From my list on wartime books about families torn apart by the conflict in WW1 and WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

My reading is almost entirely influenced by my own family’s extraordinary history. My mother and father-in-law were both illegitimate. Both suffered for the fact and my father-in-law was 11 years old when he first found out and was reunited with his mother, albeit on a second-class basis compared to his half siblings. My mother trained bomb aimers. My father flew Lancaster bombers and was just 19 years old in the skies above wartime Berlin. My own books combine history, my personal experiences, and my family’s past to weave wartime stories exploring the strains that those conflicts imposed on friendships.

David's book list on wartime books about families torn apart by the conflict in WW1 and WW2

David Snell Why did David love this book?

An abiding theme within my own book is that love and friendship can supplant racial and cultural differences, and this book, set in a village in France during the 2nd World War, highlights a growing and reluctant friendship between an occupier and the occupied.

The hatred that invasion induces causes any fraternisation to be labelled ‘collaboration.’ Sometimes it is. Sometimes, it is just people caught out of context seeking comfort and normality.

It is easy for those whose countries have never been occupied to scoff at the behaviour of those who had to live in the atmosphere and the reality of a hostile invasion. Let’s hope we never have to find out firsthand.

By Irene Nemirovsky,

Why should I read it?

11 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…


Book cover of Fleeing Hitler: France 1940

Austin Denis Johnston Author Of 33 Days: A Memoir

From my list on the refugee crisis in Western Europe in WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

Twenty years ago I nearly married a French woman and emigrated. I prepared vigorously to become an honorary Frenchman, cramming French history, language, and culture. Ultimately, I neither married nor emigrated, but the passion for that cultural acquisition project never left me, meaning many years of trips, reading, and language study. For the last decade, I've supplemented that interest by looking for historically significant French texts to translate (primarily contemporaneous texts about the World Wars and the interwar period). I have degrees in history and international affairs, plus professional experience in military affairs (including the Office of Secretary of Defense) and editing magazines (for Time, Inc.).

Austin's book list on the refugee crisis in Western Europe in WW2

Austin Denis Johnston Why did Austin love this book?

The first book to read on this subject. An accessible, expert synthesis of refugee experiences based on many accounts, including interviews, but focused on eight that contain extensive, significant detail (all by Paris residents, Léon Werth among them). Diamond concludes that Philippe Pétain leveraged refugees' suffering to propagandize for military capitulation and the legitimacy of his regime.

By Hanna Diamond,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Wednesday 12th June 1940. The Times reported 'thousands upon thousands of Parisians leaving the capital by every possible means, preferring to abandon home and property rather than risk even temporary Nazi domination'.

As Hitler's victorious armies approached Paris, the French government abandoned the city and its people, leaving behind them an atmosphere of panic. Roads heading south filled with ordinary people fleeing for their lives with whatever personal possessions they could carry, often with no particular destination in mind. During the long, hard journey, this mass exodus of predominantly women, children, and the elderly, would face constant bombings, machine gun…


Book cover of Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family's Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Paris

Stew Ross Author Of Where Did They Put the Gestapo Headquarters?-The False War & Vichy: Volume One A Walking Tour of Nazi-Occupied Paris, 1940−1944

From my list on the German occupation of France, 1940−1944.

Why am I passionate about this?

I received my B.S. in geology and spent my career in commercial banking. How did I go from banking to becoming an author? I learned to write as a banker back in the “good old” days when the loan officer had to write their own credit memorandum. I enjoyed it so much I told myself, “One day, I'm going to write a book.” Then I found a book called Walks Through Lost Paris by Leonard Pitt. As my wife and I walked through the streets of Paris, I said, “I can write a book like this.” And so I did. We're about to publish our sixth book in an anticipated series of nine.

Stew's book list on the German occupation of France, 1940−1944

Stew Ross Why did Stew love this book?

Dr. Sumner Jackson and his family lived at 11, avenue Foch, sandwiched between Gestapo interrogation offices. It is an extraordinary story of resistance by the head of the American Hospital and his family. They are caught, interrogated, and ultimately deported to various concentration camps.

The author does an excellent job of outlining the Gestapo hierarchy in Paris and describing the Nazis’ brutal methods. The family was classified as prisoners under the “Nacht und Nebel” program (“Night and Fog”) and Mr. Kershaw introduces you to Hitler’s infamous directive. The book also weaves various resistance icons into the story. These include the SOE agents, Violette Szabó, Noor Inayat Khan, and Francis Suttill.

By Alex Kershaw,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The best-selling author of The Liberator brings to life the incredible true story of an American doctor in Paris, and his heroic espionage efforts during World War II.

The leafy Avenue Foch, one of the most exclusive residential streets in Nazi-occupied France, was Paris's hotbed of daring spies, murderous secret police, amoral informers, and Vichy collaborators. So when American physician Sumner Jackson, who lived with his wife and young son Phillip at Number 11, found himself drawn into the Liberation network of the French resistance, he knew the stakes were impossibly high. Just down the road at Number 31 was…


Book cover of Suspended Sentences

Patrick Joyce Author Of Remembering Peasants: A Personal History of a Vanished World

From my list on vanishing human worlds.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the son of Irish rural immigrants who at the age of nearly eighty already occupies several vanished worlds myself: London in the 1950s and 60s, the old world of the European peasantry, and a time when the greatest war in human history was still a daily presence. I spent most of my life as an academic historian writing books for an academic audience. Then, to my surprise, at the tender age of seventy, I discovered that I could write prose that had a certain grace and dignity and which seemed to move people as well as inform them. So, I began a second career as what is called a “writer.”   

Patrick's book list on vanishing human worlds

Patrick Joyce Why did Patrick love this book?

I love the writing of Patrick Modiano.

Here, the lost world that is encountered is within the lives and beings of the characters of the three novellas that make up this book, lives and beings that are on one level from Modiano’s own biography but which, in his spare and beautiful prose become of universal moment.

The world in the book is that of the dark years of the Nazi occupation of Paris. That which is fleeting, easily lost, mysterious, and obscure haunts the pages of the book, reminding us of how evanescent and uncertain memory is but also how much our lives are bound by it.

By Patrick Modiano, Mark Polizzotti (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Elegant. Unpretentious. Approachable. . . . He is, all in all, quite an endearing Nobelist."-Michael Dirda, Washington Post

"Modiano is a pure original."-Adam Thirlwell, The Guardian

"A fine introduction to Modiano's later work."-The Economist

"These novellas have a mood. They cast a spell."-Dwight Garner, New York Times

In this essential trilogy of novellas by the winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature, French author Patrick Modiano reaches back in time, opening the corridors of memory and exploring the mysteries to be encountered there. Each novella in the volume--Afterimage, Suspended Sentences, and Flowers of Ruin-represents a sterling example of the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the German occupation of Europe, France, and politics?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the German occupation of Europe, France, and politics.

The German Occupation Of Europe Explore 70 books about the German occupation of Europe
France Explore 884 books about France
Politics Explore 710 books about politics