Synopses & Reviews
French Peasant Fascism
is the first account of the Greenshirts, a militant right-wing peasant movement in 1930s France that sought to transform the Republic into an authoritarian, agrarian state. Author Robert Paxton examines the Greenshirts in five case studies, throwing new light on French rural society and institutions during the Depression and on the emergence of a new rural leadership of authentic farmers. Paxton points out that fascism remained weak in the French countryside because the French state protected landowners more effectively than did those of Weimar Germany and Italy, and because French rural notables were so firmly embedded in social and economic power.
Although the Greenshirts disappeared with the Third Republic, they left a double legacy: a tradition of peasant direct action, which is still exercised today; and the idea of France as a peasant nation, whose identity and virtues rest upon the persistence of a large peasant sector. That self-image continues to influence French policy choices today, long after the social structure on which it rested has disappeared.
"Thoughtful, reflective, sensitive to nuances, Paxton squeezes all possible information from his sources. Specialists will not want to miss his book. Nonspecialists should at least read the first chapter...and the last chapter....If they are not then moved to read the rest, they will at least have observed a first-rate mind at work."--The York Times Book Review
"Once again, Robert Paxton has done pioneering work."--Foreign Affairs
"This is a finely crafted piece of historical research." --Times Literary Supplement
Includes bibliographical references (p. 187-233) and index.
About the Author
Robert O. Paxton
is Professor of History Columbia University. He has also taught at University of California at Berkeley, State University of New York at Stony Brook and Columbia University. His areas of specialization include the Vichy regime in France and the French Right and he is currently preparing a comparative study of fascism.