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Carmen Callil's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Carmen Callil recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Carmen Callil's favorite book recommendations of all time.

This devastating account of the ecclesiastical career of Eugenio Pacelli (1876-1958), who became Pope Pius XII in 1939, is all the more powerful because British historian John Cornwell maintains throughout a measured though strongly critical tone. After World War II, murmurs of Pacelli's callous indifference to the plight of Europe's Jews began to be heard.

A noted commentator on Catholic issues, Cornwell began research for this book believing that "if his full story were told, Pius XII's pontificate would be exonerated." Instead, he emerged from the Vatican archives in a state of...
Recommended by Carmen Callil, and 1 others.

Carmen CallilThe history that I have researched and written is the dark and murky side, the underbelly of history. I was really writing about hatred, about French fascism, and time and time again I would come up against the Catholic church – there was nothing much written about why it did what it did and how it got away with what it did. (Source)

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A Biography

Generalissimo Francisco Franco, the Caudillo of Spain, was the most tenacious and most successful of twentieth-century Europe's great dictators. He is remembered widely as the astute general under whose leadership the Nationalist cause was victorious in the Spanish Civil War and the Communist threat exterminated, and as the head of state who skillfully negotiated safe passage for Spain through World War II, played Hitler off against the Allies, modernized his country, and orchestrated the Spanish economic miracle of the 1960s. By the time of his death in 1975, he had steered a unified Spain... more
Recommended by Carmen Callil, and 1 others.

Carmen CallilPaul Preston is another great British historian and his subject is Spain. This is the biography of Franco. What is so wonderful about it is that, generally speaking, the history of the last war for many decades in Britain is seen through the prism of what happened to Britain and America. And all the other countries that suffered so terribly in Europe were very much neglected. (Source)

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The Dark Years, 1940-1944

This is the first comprehensive study of the German occupation of France between 1940 and 1944. The author examines the nature and extent of collaboration and resistance, different experiences of Occupation, the persecution of the Jews, intellectual and cultural life under Occupation, and the purge trials that followed. He concludes by tracing the legacy and memory of the Occupation since 1945. Taking in ordinary peoples' experiences, this volume uncovers the conflicting memories of occupation which ensure that even today France continues to debate the legacy of the Vichy years.
Recommended by Carmen Callil, and 1 others.

Carmen CallilJulian Jackson is today’s most important and prominent British historian of France. The way that the war is seen by historians changed completely with the publication of a book in the 60s by an American, Robert Paxton [Vichy France, Old Guard and New Order, 1940-1944] – it was the bible for people who wanted to understand what happened in France during the Second World War. He showed for the... (Source)

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Using the lives of the three outstanding French intellectuals of the twentieth century, renowned historian Tony Judt offers a unique look at how intellectuals can ignore political pressures and demonstrate a heroic commitment to personal integrity and moral responsibility unfettered by the difficult political exigencies of their time.

Through the prism of the lives of Leon Blum, Albert Camus, and Raymond Aron, Judt examines pivotal issues in the history of contemporary French society—antisemitism and the dilemma of Jewish identity, political and moral idealism in public life, the...
Recommended by Carmen Callil, and 1 others.

Carmen CallilTony Judt is my hero. He died very recently. I think he is one of the most important and impressive English historians and philosophers of his time. People call him a dissident but I don’t think he was a dissident actually – he was more a defender of moral values in life, society, politics, history, war. He was a great thinker and a great humanitarian and in this book he describes three men of a... (Source)

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Set against the backdrop of the French and Industrial Revolutions, two world wars, and the Holocaust, this is the richly detailed and marvelously told saga of a remarkable Jewish family. A compelling narrative, Dreyfus: A Family Affair is a magnificent slice of social and political history. "Serious scholarship that reads like a novel".--Eugene Weber, professor of history, UCLA. 16 pages of black-and-white photographs. less
Recommended by Carmen Callil, and 1 others.

Carmen CallilThe Dreyfus affair is a mythic event in French history. This book is the first to tell the story of the entire Dreyfus family – taking them from their origins in Alsace to the Nazi death camps where some of Dreyfus’s descendants were murdered – sent there by the Vichy government. (Source)

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