FRANCE AND THE APRES GUERRE, 1918-1924 by Benjamin F. Martin

FRANCE AND THE APRES GUERRE, 1918-1924

Illusions and Disillusionment
Age Range: 0 - 8071
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KIRKUS REVIEW

paper 0-8071-2509-1 A solid political and economic history of the post-WWI period in France, gracefully written by an accomplished scholar (History/Louisiana State Univ.; Crime and Criminal Justice Under the Third Republic, not reviewed, etc.). It’s well known that France suffered greatly during the First World War. It paid a higher price than its allies in defeating Germany, losing over a million men on the Western Front. What is generally not known is the extent of the discord between the so-called Anglo-Saxon countries and France. The Versailles Treaty had no plan for rebuilding the German economy, only one for punishing Germany for starting the war. But the harsh economic provisions of the treaty were not enforced by Britain and the US. Yet France was pressed to repay its war debts to them, something it couldn—t do unless Germany paid its war reparations to France. Germany, experiencing mass unemployment and gross hyperinflation, defaulted on payments it probably could never have made. As a result, France occupied the German industrial region of the Ruhr in a vain attempt at self-preservation. While France suffered along with Germany, Britain stabilized and the US prospered. Martin tells the history of a France bolstered with the illusion of a return to the good prewar life and its disillusionment at the grim reality of postwar angst. He provides intimate portraits of the leading political figures of the day, Georges Clemenceau, Aristide Briand, and Raymond PoincarÇ. He describes in lengthy detail the squabbles between parties of the right and the left, and their ineffectiveness in solving the economic and political crises afflicting the nation. Economic statistics are excessively used at times, yet are offset by page-turning vignettes of the suicides, murders, and assassinations that an ailing populace inflicted on themselves in their despair. A crucial corrective that implicates Britain and the US as responsible parties in the ultimate rise of the German Third Reich and the fall of the French Third Republic. (5 b&w photos)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-8071-2399-4
Page count: 270pp
Publisher: Louisiana State Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1999