International Interview

Historian Robert Paxton talks Trump, French polemicist Éric Zemmour and fascism

When the French language version of his book 'Vichy France' appeared in 1973, the American historian Robert Paxton opened French eyes to the Vichy regime's collaboration with the Nazis in World War II. At the age of 87 he remains one of the most knowledgable people about fascism. Mediapart spoke with the emeritus professor at Columbia University about Donald Trump, nostalgia for the wartime era of Vichy president Marshal Philippe Pétain, and the spectre of a return to the 1930s. Mathieu Magnaudeix reports from New York.

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Almost half a century ago the American historian Robert Paxton published a landmark book which went on to revolutionize the way France looked at Vichy France, the common name for the French State headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain during World War II, and in doing so sparked a major controversy. Vichy France, published in English in 1972 and in French a year later, established for the first time the scale of collaboration between Pétain's regime and Nazi Germany and its major responsibility in the deportation of Jews from France. Indeed his contribution to the issue has been described as the “Paxtonian Revolution”.

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