Wednesday, December 01, 2004


I just finished a book called Paris After the Liberation 1944-1949 by Anthony Beevor and Artemis Cooper. The book was generally written from a very French perspective. This is interesting, since we generally learn about the liberation of Paris as a weigh station between Normandy and Berlin. I guess for the United States, this is a sensible way to view the liberation of La Havre, Paris, Strasbourg, Frankfurt, and points in between. Obviously for the French the liberation of Paris was a much more emotional event.

All that being said, the book is very much in the tradition of the Great Man history. DeGaulle, Camus, Sartre, Monnet, and other such players drive almost all of the action in this book. There is absolutely not one second of trying to tell you what life for the various classes, etc. was like. That is not this book. Within that limitation, the book is a very informative look at the liberation of Paris from a different perspective than is normally provided. Oh, and the book may have a bit too much untranslated French for people who have zero French.

The next issue is the content of the book. Because the book is really focused on Paris, the artists and intellectuals (along with some diplomats) provide a disproportionate amount of the content. Thus, the impression is created that a large part of why France got trounced by the Germans, and had to be liberated by the Allies was that seventy years after Bismarck was saying that the issues of the day would be settled by blood and iron, the French were waiting for Picasso and Sartre to weigh in on the important matters of the day. It can be almost enraging when reading the debates and tiffs after liberation while Americans, Canadians, Russians, Britons, and a few Frenchman were fighting across the Rhein and Oder into the heart of the Reich. Still a good read though.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to see you're reading again, Highbrow. What kind of snob recommended THAT one to you? F

11:21 AM  
Blogger David said...

It was a good recommendation, F, but obviously someone would have to be a tremendous snob to have recommended to me.

By the way, I passed it on to a co-worker with a serious thing about Frog history, who says she's going to pass it on to her Frog manfriend. See the ripples book recommendations cause?

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


8:51 AM  

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