This book, first published in 1987, examines the elements that constitute the French identity through the experience of the Second World War – a constant point of reference, a landmark to which the collective consciousness returns again and again. The Occupation period and the national humiliation of the French military and political collapse has been perceived as more than a series of traumatic events, and in fact as a reality of mythical proportions that became a symbol of something grander, French identity itself.

1. On the Eve of War: A Nation Divided  1.1. Léon Blum and the ‘Front Populaire’  1.2. Civil War in Spain  1.3. ‘Mieux Hitler que Blum’  1.4. Munich  1.5. The ‘Drôle de guerre’  2. The Débâcle (10 May-20 June 1940)  2.1. Military Defeat  2.2. Dunkirk  2.3. Exodus  2.4. Armistice  2.5. De Gaulle’s Rebellion  2.6. The Defeat  3. Occupation I: Disillusionment and Illusions  3.1. Prisoners  3.2. A Humiliated People  3.3. Vichy and Paris  3.4. Glitter and Black Market  3.5. Germany: the Promised Land  3.6. De Gaulle Seen from Vichy  4. Occupation II: Abjection and Hope  4.1. The Jewish Question  4.2. Nazi France  4.3. Resistance  4.4. Timid Beginnings  4.5. ‘Le Parti des fusillés’  4.6. Towards Liberation  5. Liberation, Purge and the Quest for a New France  5.1. Getting Rid of the Germans  5.2. ‘L’Épuration’  5.3. The Search for Unity  6. Looking Back  6.1. Colonial Disaster  6.2. The Return of de Gaulle  6.3. The War Revisited