A history of modern France; volume 3, 1871-1962 by Alfred Cobban

An old but readable summary of French political history (with some diversions into culture) between 1871 and 1962, covering the Third to the Fifth Republics. Very strong on names, not so much on examining the personalities themselves in more than just sketch form. Topically, it is thin on the French contribution to the outbreak of World War One, though French attitudes to the war and the broad sweep of events are adequately portrayed. What I found more interesting was the detail of the fall of France in 1940 and the nature and people involved in the Vichy regime; most Anglo-Saxon World War 2 history merely ends with the fall of France and Vichy is just accorded a footnote as A Bad Thing.

The general chaos of French post-war politics is well depicted. A good outline work (with its preceding two volumes) if you aren’t specialising in French history.


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