Liberty, equality, fragility

The History of Modern France: From the Revolution to the Present DayJonathan FenbySimon and Schuster, £25

The World Today
3 minute READ

John Lichfield

Paris correspondent, The Independent

When Marine Le Pen bust up with father this spring, her anger was provoked, among other things, by Jean-Marie’s claim that the Vichy regime, which collaborated with the Nazis, were no traitors.

When the former president Nicolas Sarkozy decided this year to rename his centre-right party ‘Les Républicains’, leftists protested that the title was ‘against nature and against history’. The Republic was an idea of the Left, born of revolution, they said. Republican values had long been opposed by French parties of the Right.

One of Sarkozy’s first acts when he became president in 2007 was to try to reverse the uncharacteristically courageous statements made by his predecessor, Jacques Chirac, about French history (including an overdue apology for the role of the French state in the Holocaust).

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