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Living with the Enemy
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    Living with the Enemy
    • Online ISBN: 9781316823439
    • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316823439
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Book description

In post-liberation France, the French courts judged the cases of more than one hundred thousand people accused of aiding and abetting the enemy during the Second World War. In this fascinating book, Sandra Ott uncovers the hidden history of collaboration in the Pyrenean borderlands of the Basques and the Béarnais in southwestern France through nine stories of human folly, uncertainty, ambiguity, ambivalence, desire, vengeance, duplicity, greed, self-interest, opportunism and betrayal. Covering both the occupation and liberation periods, she reveals how the book's characters became involved with the occupiers for a variety of reasons, ranging from a desire to settle scores and to gain access to power, money and material rewards, to love, friendship, fear and desperation. These wartime lives and subsequent postwar reckonings provide us with a new lens through which to understand human behavior under the difficult conditions of occupation, and the subsequent search for retribution and justice.

Reviews

'Sandra Ott, one of the leading experts on the history of the French Basques, offers an important and wonderfully readable study of the region during the Vichy Years. In Living with the Enemy, her ethnographic approach succeeds beautifully in describing and analyzing the relations between German occupiers and Basques in a place that in some significant ways stands apart from other regions in France. She brings to life the dramatic and complicated ‘hidden’ story of the Germanoccupation and Vichy collaboration in the Basque country. Ott’s compelling narrative and thoughtful conclusions nuance what we know about French collaboration with the Nazis during the Vichy years.'

John Merriman - Charles Seymour Professor of History, Yale University

'A subtle and enthralling exploration of the myriad ways in which Germans and French were drawn together in complex webs of greed and vengeance, generosity and betrayal under the occupation. A magnificent contribution to the historiography.'

Robert Gildea - University of Oxford

'This engaging and important book sees the big questions of France in the Second World War (questions of occupation and collaboration) refracted through the lives of individuals in one particular, and particularly interesting, region. It will be of special interest to those who study twentieth-century France or the Second World War, but it deserves a wider readership as well because it lives up to Marc Bloch’s injunction that the historian should be like the ogre in the fairy tale who finds his prey ‘by the smell of human flesh’.'

Richard Vinen - King’s College London

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