French Intellectuals Between Wars

French Intellectuals Between Wars

Herbert Lottman’s recent book on writers, artists, and politics, from the Popular Front to the Cold War, is a lively and valuable contribution to the social-cultural history of the recent past.* No one who grew up during this period, like the present writer, can read it without a surge of old memories and a twinge of nostalgia. Not that one wishes the past it evokes—a past that includes the rise of Hitler, the Spanish Civil War, the fall of France, the almost complete conquest of Europe by the Nazis, the revelations of the Holocaust, and then the explosion of the first atomic bomb and the Cold War—to come back to life. But the memories of youth always have something appealing about them, if only because one remembers primarily one’s innocence and illusions; and Lottman’s narrative recounts the history of a period dominated by one such illusion.

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