“The suicide of France: the 40 years that defeated France” is Eric Zemmour’s scathing attack on the failures of the country’s leadership and its elites since the end of the Gaullist era in 1969.
Alongside economic stagnation, immigration has killed France’s cultural identity, writes Zemmour, a popular if controversial figure whose outlook is seen as drifting ever closer to the far-right. In a review of his book this week, left-leaning daily Libération opens its article calling him “sexist, homophobic and Islamophobic”.
Perhaps most controversially, Zemmour states that the dark days of Vichy France during the Nazi occupation are both misunderstood and misrepresented, victim of an historical orthodoxy that views everything about the collaborationist regime in terms of “absolute evil”.
For Paxton, the fact that a quarter of Jews living in France during the war perished was part of a wide-ranging and deliberately anti-Semitic collaborationist policy.
But Zemmour leaps to the Vichy leadership’s defence insisting that the surviving 75 percent were “saved by the strategy of [Vichy leader] Philippe Pétain and [wartime Prime Minister] Pierre Laval in the face of German demands”.
Specifically, he says they deliberately “sacrificed foreign Jews (living in France) in order to save French Jews”.
While stopping short of praising Pétain and Laval, Zemmour wants his readers to understand that there is a “difference between morality...and political efficiency” when making their judgement on the Vichy regime.