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Library Journal Review
Beever and Cooper's highly regarded 1994 volume profiles the political fallout in Paris following the defeat of the Nazis and the rise of communism. It was a time when U.S. and other Allied troops were considered by many French citizens to be the new invaders trying to take over their country. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Early postwar France saw the trials of collaborationist leaders, de Gaulle's reestablishment of the republic and his abrupt resignation in 1946, widespread panic at the prospect of a Communist or right-wing coup and the arrival of Marshall Plan aid, which rescued the country from economic collapse. This engaging chronicle set in Paris--a magnet for Picasso, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Camus, Wright, Orwell, Hemingway, Breton, Koestler, Philby--captures the desperation and exhilaration of those years through a blend of history, eyewitness accounts, interviews, telling incident and gossip. Beevor ( The Spanish Civil War ) and Cooper ( Cairo in the War: 1939-1945 ) illuminate the blind Stalinism of France's ``progressive'' intelligentsia, protracted enmity between resisters and collaborators, early years of the Cold War and France's love-hate relationship with the U.S. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
This offers a luminous look at the City of Light when collaborators were shot, de Gaulle stood tall and then stood down, Communists ~marched, and Malraux, Sartre, de Beauvoir, and Camus set the world's literary tastes. Attempting the difficult art of civic portraiture, these authors and lovers of Paris paint an ardent, vibrant tableau of the city's recovery of its cultural preeminence after the dark years of the Occupation--no easy task given the fissures that then rent French society. But they sew it together, combining high politics of the cold war with signs that peace had returned--the reopened salons, theaters, fashion shows, and nightclubs--and weaving in their accounts of rumors of conspiracies that periodically swept the city (one source being the papers of Cooper's grandfather, then the British ambassador). The key to this book's enjoyment is its confectionary character; it delights with apt, perfectly paced scenes. An amiable companion for tourists or socialites (approved of in a flap blurb by Pamela Harriman, DC soiree thrower and now U.S. ambassador) en route to the 50th Liberation Day observance next August 25 or traveling vicariously to the local library. ~--Gilbert Taylor
Kirkus Book Review
Beevor (The Spanish Civil War, 1983, etc.) and Cooper (editor, The Letters of Evelyn Waugh and Diana Cooper, 1992, etc.) have created what should surely become one of the definitive works on the Paris liberation. The authors take the reader through the beginning of France's disintegration at the time of defeat, the postwar order under De Gaulle, the Cold War, and up to the American tourist invasion. There are wonderful episodes and gossipy insights throughout, and an unforgettable gallery of characters. At the hour of defeat, De Gaulle and Pétain meet accidentally on the steps of the Château de Muguet. ``You are the general,'' says Pétain. ``But what's the use of rank during a defeat?'' ``But,'' retorts De Gaulle, ``it was during the retreat of 1914 that you yourself received your first stars.'' Pétain: ``No comparison.'' On collaboration, the authors are wide-ranging and subtle. We see the actress Arletty cavorting at the Ritz with a lover from the Luftwaffe, as does Coco Chanel (who reportedly turned in a Jewish rival to the Gestapo). We see actor Sacha Guitry desperately trying to justify his meetings with Goering at Otto Abetz's famous collaborationist salon by claiming that it was simply ``par curiosité.'' Most harrowing of all descriptions are those of deportees returning, feebly trying to sing the ``Marseillaise'' on the station platforms in their rags. One of them, Charles Spitz, later recalled going to a restaurant, equipped with a civilian wallet and cash but unable to relinquish the small wooden box filled with pins, string, and other bits and pieces that had meant survival for him in a concentration camp. When asked to settle the bill, instead of emptying his wallet, he instinctively emptied the contents of the box onto the table. The joy of this volume is that nothing in it is labored or overworked: historical overviews dovetail perfectly with a close reading of daily life, always sharply and tersely drawn and using a rich supply of material.