Paris After the Liberation: 
1944 – 1949

“There is hardly any aspect of French life during that period which the authors do not explore, always with compelling liveliness and omniverous zeal... I shall return gratefully to it again and again.” Alistair Horne, The European
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When General Leclerc’s troops entered Paris to save the uprising by the Resistance, they were greeted by the wildest scenes of joy ever witnessed in modern times. Next day – 26 August 1944 – half the population of the city converged to watch General de Gaulle’s triumphant progress from the Arc de Triomphe to Notre-Dame.

The spirit of freedom was intense, but celebration was edged with revenge. Marshal Pétain’s regime was now cursed. Scores were settled in a rough and uneven justice, while black marketeers grew rich on the misery of the population.

Yet a vibrant energy gripped the young of Saint-Germain and the Latin Quarter, who ignored hunger as they argued through the night in a tumult of ideas.

For the huge variety of foreigners arriving – journalists, writers, artists and diplomats – rediscovering the most elegant city in the world was pleasure enough. Theatre, haute couture and the society that enjoyed them sprang back to life with renewed vigour, and in smart restaurants the headwaiters who had bowed to the Germans now welcomed back their old customers.

Yet a new struggle was about to begin as Paris became the diplomatic battleground in the opening stages of the Cold War. Even the fashionable world and the existentialists of Saint-Germain-des-Prés were diverted from their preoccupations as Europe again appeared on the brink of a new world war.

Paris after the Liberation is a social, political and cultural history of this extraordinary period, an epoch charged with powerful and conflicting emotions and intellectual change. Against a fascinating and dangerous political background, every aspect of life is portrayed in relief – the atmosphere of the street, of cafés, restaurants and night-clubs, fashion houses and salons and painters’ studios.

Hemingway, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Camus, Picasso, André Malraux, Gertrude Stein, Samuel Beckett, Louise de Vilmorin, Gaston Palewski, Nancy Mitford, Duff and Diana Cooper, Jean Cocteau, Kim Philby – as well as the major political figures, such as General de Gaulle and Maurice Thorez – are just some of the characters brought to life in this synthesis of contemporary history, reportage and vivid description.

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“Anglo-Saxon writers have often been more objective than their French colleagues in dealing with these dreadfully delicate periods. The American historian Robert Paxton is still the most trustworthy commentator on Vichy France. Antony Beevor and Artemis Cooper also enjoy that mixture of love for and detachment from the French which allows them to script a dashing, multi-dimensional story. Here, behind colourful and poignant anecdotes, national myths are punctured without being swapped for distorted jingoistic legends. . . This book covers all aspects of life – diplomacy, strategy, rationing, politics and politicking (from Churchill, Pétain’s and de Gaulle’s point of view), the international theatricals and the tourist invasion, blitzkrieg and Ritzkrieg – to create a lovely tapestry, threaded with facts and figures, not merely patchwork. I grew up in Paris in those years: that was the way it was.” Olivier Todd, The Sunday Times
“Books of this kind are extraordinarily difficult to write. Smoothly flowing narrative, with social comment, political analysis and descriptive writing deftly integrated, must conceal a firm infrastructure and much laborious organisation of material. Unwavering control is necessary at every point. This the authors unfailingly provide. Technically the book is outstanding: it is also enormously enjoyable to read – exciting, lively, funny, and admirably tolerant and objective in its opinions. It is hard to see how it could have been better done.” Philip Ziegler, Sunday Telegraph
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United Kingdom Penguin Books
United States Penguin Putnam Inc.
Spain Editorial Crítica
Israel Yavneh
Norway N.W. Damm & Son AS
France Editions Perrin
Sweden Historiska Media
Japan Hakasui-sha
Holland Ambo-Anthos
Finland Siltala
Czech Republic Beta-Dombrowsky
Portugal Bertrand Editora
Denmark Lindhardt & Ringhof
Poland Znak