France against Herself: A Perceptive Study of France's Past, Her Politics, and Her Unending Crises

France against Herself: A Perceptive Study of France's Past, Her Politics, and Her Unending Crises

France against Herself: A Perceptive Study of France's Past, Her Politics, and Her Unending Crises

France against Herself: A Perceptive Study of France's Past, Her Politics, and Her Unending Crises

Excerpt

Every book, particularly of course every political book, bears the imprint of the time when it was written. This is not just because the chronicle of recorded events necessarily does not extend beyond that time, and because the facts and figures reflect the state of current knowledge and are necessarily always a few months in arrears. If this were a mere chronicle of events or a reference book, these things could be rectified. But a book which tries to give a total picture must either be rewritten every year or remain unaltered, with the truth that it possessed for the time when it was written and the truth which was of somewhat longer duration. The march of events continues, and with every step both the past and future look different. Signs of new beginnings which were present fade away, infirmities heal, new forces and new combinations of old forces come into play; yesterday's hopes or anxieties may now be certainties, and promises and threats that loomed on the horizon may have vanished and passed into oblivion. It is better to admit in advance that, in spite of all efforts at objectivity, emotions such as hope and anxiety, which can never be completely impartial, played a part in building up the picture; for the latter is a product, not of an impartial electronic brain, but of someone who was emotionally involved. There can be no contemporary history without such emotional involvement. Only the light of events, which daily transform a bit of open future into the irrevocable past, can show that the picture was neither a wish phantasy nor a caricature.

It is therefore important to date this book.

It was written in the spring and early summer of 1953, and was substantially finished when the great crisis of the summer of that year threw all France's internal and external problems simultaneously into an inextricable tangle and ended in the "great indecision" of the Government of M. Laniel. While the book was still in the press it was possible to insert some summary references to the events of the autumn of that year . . .

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