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France's New Deal:
From the Thirties to the Postwar Era
Philip Nord

Paperback | 2012 | $33.95 | £27.95 | ISBN: 9780691156118
480 pp. | 6 x 9
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400834969 |
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France's New Deal is an in-depth and important look at the remaking of the French state after World War II, a time when the nation was endowed with brand-new institutions for managing its economy and culture. Yet, as Philip Nord reveals, the significant process of state rebuilding did not begin at the Liberation. Rather, it got started earlier, in the waning years of the Third Republic and under the Vichy regime. Tracking the nation's evolution from the 1930s through the postwar years, Nord describes how a variety of political actors--socialists, Christian democrats, technocrats, and Gaullists--had a hand in the construction of modern France.

Nord examines the French development of economic planning and a cradle-to-grave social security system; and he explores the nationalization of radio, the creation of a national cinema, and the funding of regional theaters. Nord shows that many of the policymakers of the Liberation era had also served under the Vichy regime, and that a number of postwar institutions and policies were actually holdovers from the Vichy era--minus the authoritarianism and racism of those years. From this perspective, the French state after the war was neither entirely new nor purely social-democratic in inspiration. The state's complex political pedigree appealed to a range of constituencies and made possible the building of a wide base of support that remained in place for decades to come.

A nuanced perspective on the French state's postwar origins, France's New Deal chronicles how one modern nation came into being.


"[S]uperb. . . . [An] unparalleled contribution to the history of the state and society in France."--Paul V. Dutton, American Historical Review

"Nord offers a magisterial, highly nuanced account of the dramatic remaking of the French nation after the crushing defeat of 1940 and the empty years of occupation by the Nazis."--Choice

"Most of the time, reading a work on controversial eras of French history--and especially the Vichy regime--imparts a teeter-totter effect, as the historian seesaws between contrasting sides. Philip Nord, instead, quietly presents a convincing analysis that integrates and harmonizes the opposing sides without disservice to truth. . . . On the author's insightful telling, what was new on the modern French scene was the presence, and concerted action, of Christians committed to democracy, some of them engaged as organized partisans, others as unaffiliated individuals. The emergent model--what Nord calls 'France's "new deal"'--was a thoroughly French version of the activist state: modern and modernizing in economic life, yet allergic to liberal laissez-faire individualism."--Steve Englund, Commonweal

"[V]ery wide-ranging and informed. . . . This is a very thought-provoking work, which will be a point of reference for the discussion of French modernization in the future; it is also very well written even though it deals with daunting technical issues and is a work of primary research. It is rare to find such reader-friendly work at such a demanding level."--David S. Bell, European Legacy

"Philip Nord's new book tells a big story and teaches us something novel and important about twentieth-century France. . . . Nord's book makes an original and on the whole convincing argument."--Paul Cohen, Canadian Journal of History

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Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments ix
List of Abbreviations xi
INTRODUCTION. Postwar Stories 1

CHAPTER 1. The Crisis of the Thirties 25
CHAPTER 2. The War Years 88
CHAPTER 3. The Liberation Moment 145

CHAPTER 4. Art and Commerce in the Interwar Decades 221
CHAPTER 5. Culture in Wartime 254
CHAPTER 6. The Culture State 311

Conclusion 360
Notes 385
Index 435

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