Emerging from France's catastrophic 1940 defeat like a bedraggled and rather sinister phoenix, the French State – better known to history as Vichy France or the Vichy Regime after its spa-town capital, stands in history as a unique and bizarre creation of German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler's European conquests. A patchwork of paradoxes and contradictions, the Vichy Regime maintained a quasi-independent French nation for some time after the Third Reich invasion until the Germans decided to include it in their occupation zone.
Headed by a French war hero of World War I, Marshal Philippe Petain, and his later Prime Minister Pierre Laval, Vichy France displayed strong right-wing, conservative, and authoritarian tendencies. Nevertheless, it never lapsed fully into fascism until the Germans arrived to reduce its role to little more than a mask over their own dominion. Petain carried out several major initiatives in an effort to counteract the alleged decadence of modern life and to restore the strength and virtues of the French "race". Accordingly, he received willing support from more conservative elements of society, even some factions within the Catholic Church. Following Case Anton - the takeover of the unoccupied area by the Germans - native French fascist elements also emerged.
While the French later disowned the Vichy government with considerable vehemence, evidence such as fairly broad-based popular support prior to Case Anton suggests a somewhat different story. The Petain government expressed one facet of French culture and thought. Its conservative, imperialistic nature did not represent the widespread love of "liberty, fraternity, and equality" also deeply ingrained in French thinking, but neither did it constitute a complete divergence from a national history that produced such famous authoritarians as Louis XIV and Napoleon Bonaparte.
Is there anything you would change about this book?
When the performer can't even pronounce the title correctly you know you aren't going to get very far. So, so unbearable. You have to wonder whether it's some kind of prank performance or a dare. Sorry to be so negative but if you are an Audible regular you will know that it renders everything else unbearable. This was the worst case I've ever come across.
What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?
I am afraid I didn't get far enough in before getting Audible to refund.
Who might you have cast as narrator instead of William Crockett?
Sorry to keep harping on, but anyone who can pronounce French names and places in - not necessarily a French accent (I don't speak French) - but at least in a way that an English speaker might have heard before.
If this book were a film would you go see it?
Any additional comments?
The short book reads like a Masters level dissertation. It is well researched & presents a very important piece of WWII history with a scholarly touch. If you're looking for a brief overview of the Vichy regime, this book is an excellent choice.
But be warned, Mr. Crockett's narration is awful. You will have to fight through his constant mispronunciation of vocabulary, both common & academic, his well intended over annunciation and amateur-hour voice affectations, indistinguishable from one character to the next, during all historical quotes.
Honestly, if I hadn't been so eager to dive into this subject, I would have requested a refund because the book is almost unlistenable due to performance.