A progression of autobiography and essays follows Dutourd's dissection of his country's decline from power to decay and the strange passion France bred in him after his capture in World War II when, recently a soldier, he was taken prisoner in Brittany. Here, in a dazed period, is the review of the wars, the generals and field marshals, the politicians; the development successively of a society that glorified failure and defeat, of a philosophical Conard En ""What do we care?"", of a loss of patriotism at military and civilian levels. The humiliations of 1940 aroused his spirit of contradiction which questioned the thinking and heritage that led to French loss of dignity; and the great soul of de Gaulle (""French honor followed de Gaulle into retirement"") was the source of his study of the decline of France's courage and virtue. A fifteen year's perspective gives this an acrid anger and a devastating analysis that transatlantic students of history and national progress will find most animating.