The Embrace of Unreason: France, 1914-1940
Belying the subtitle, Brown begins with the political upheaval within the French government of the late nineteenth century to portray the cause-and-effect chain of events that climaxed in the Great War with its untold horrors of blood soaked trenches striping Flanders. From there, with unabashed prostitution of clashing agendas, Joan of Arc, the fifteenth century heroine of Orleans whom the priests burned at the stake, is venerated by both sides for their own political purposes. Ratcheting further from any rational connection to logic, the French toy with communism, Surrealism, Dadaism and a host of other outrageous delusions.
Although sprinkled with literary genius from a collection of legends, this behind the scenes glimpse of social subterfuge leaves the reader battle-weary after the illogic of rash antisemitism threaded throughout the Dreyfus Affair, and the acceptance of the Vichy government with all its holocaust implications. Nevertheless, Brown’s expose’ of the popular mindset that fractured social progression into such bipolar extremes reminds us of our own political morass, and forces us to ponder what disastrous future lies in store for America if we tread the path that France has already trod.
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