LAVAL by Hubert Cole


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This is the first biography of the man who as civilian leader of Vichy rance led his country into collaboration with the Germans and was executed for reason after World War II by the Free French Government under de Gaulle. The book races Laval's early career as a lawyer, business man and one-time Socialist, a politician of the 1920's who emerged as one of the leaders of France in the 1930's, who although Premier in 1931 and 1935-1936 is best remembered as the evil architect of Petain's Vichy Government. A portrait is drawn of a clever, proud, unscrupulous negotiator who insisted that motives which led him into cooperation with Germany ere prompted by his feelings as a patriot rather than based on opportunism and his irm belief that Germany would win the war. Therefore, in 1940, he welded the curious assortment of Fascists, opportunists, reactionaries, businessmen and malcontents into temporary uneasy political alliance under Petain with the thought that temporary German occupation was preferable to the bloody devastations of WWI, still fresh in people's minds. This treatment of Laval's complexity of conduct results in a more sympathetic portrait of the man than might otherwise have been expected. But although the book is an impartial and extremely readable one, the appendix, bibliography and extensive index will give it equal value for study and reference.

Publisher: Putnam