Season of Infamy

Season of Infamy

A Diary of War and Occupation, 1939-1945
Charles Rist, foreword by Robert O. Paxton, translated by Michele McKay Aynesworth
Distribution: Virgin Islands (U.S.), Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda,
Publication date: 05/09/2016
Format: Hardback 1 b&w illus
ISBN: 978-0-253-01944-8
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In 1939, the 65-year old French political economist Charles Rist was serving as advisor to the French government and consultant to the international banking and business world. As France anxiously awaited a German invasion, Rist traveled to America to negotiate embargo policy. Days after his return to Paris, the German offensive began and with it the infamous season of occupation. Retreating to his villa in Versailles, Rist turned his energies to the welfare of those closest to him, while in his diary he began to observe the unfolding of the war. Here the deeply learned Rist investigates the causes of the disaster and reflects on his country’s fate, placing the behavior of the "people" and the "elite" in historical perspective. Though well-connected, Rist and his family and friends were not exempt from the perils and tragedies of war, as the diary makes clear. Season of Infamy presents a distinctive, closely-observed view of life in France under the occupation.

Author Bio

Charles Rist (1874-1955) was a French political economist. His Histoire des doctrines économiques (1909) established his reputation and throughout the interwar years, Rist served as one of France’s top experts on financial matters. After the fall of France, Rist withdrew from the public arena to devote time to his family and his diary.

Michele McKay Aynesworth is a translator and editor for Source, a quarterly publication of the American Translators Association’s Literary Division.


“Season of Infamy presents a distinctive, closely-observed view of life in France under the 1939 German occupation through the diary of political economist Charles Rist. The deeply learned Rist investigates the causes of the disaster and reflects on his country’s fate, placing the behavior of the "people" and the "elite" in historical perspective.”

“The singularity of Rist's diary, and its primary value for scholars, is the breadth and depth of the insights it brings to bear on internal Vichy politics, the ideology of the bourgeoisie in relation to that of other classes, and the role that radio played in shaping popular opinion. Much of its critical value comes from Rist's unique perspective generated by his exceptional access to information, his fluency in three languages, and his rare ability to analyze current events in a long-term historical and intellectual perspective.”
 — Brett Bowles, author of Marcel Pagnol

“We discover in these pages a closely observed view of life and events in France during the occupation. . . . Tracking the war’s events, [Rist's] narrative is informed by a sophisticated knowledge of history, literature, and human behavior.”

“[T]his is a valuable account of what one significant and perceptive Frenchman experienced during the protracted disgrace of France as a vassal state of Nazi Germany. ”
 — Publishers Weekly

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Robert O. Paxton
A Note from the Translator
Introduction to the 1983 French Edition by Jean-Noël Jeanneney
Regarding the History and Annotation of the Text (Jeanneney)
A Brief Who’s Who of the Rist Family
I. War Begins
2 September 1939 - 23 January 1940
II. Blockade Mission, Visit to Roosevelt
24 January - 24 April 1940
III. Hitler’s Army Enters Paris
16 May - 12 July 1940
IV. Vichy and the "French State": Beginnings
12 July - 29 September 1940
V. Promulgation of Anti-Jewish Laws
4 October - 15 December 1940
VI. "National Renewal": Harem Hijinks
17 December 1940 - 14 March 1941
VII. The Spreading Conflagration
16 March - 17 August 1941
VIII. Pétain’s Ambassador to Washington?
30 August - 26 October 1941
IX. End of My Mission
11 November - 15 November 1941
X. The Wind Shifts
16 November - 14 December 1941
XI. "A War Against the Jews"
15 December 1941 - 27 February 1942
XII. War Hits Close to Home
4 March - 15 July 1942
XIII. Certificates of Not Belonging to the Jewish Race
24 July - 23 October 1942
XIV. "Coup de Théâtre": A Turning Point in the War
24 October - 13 December 1942
XV. Internal Gangrene
16 December 1942 - 6 February 1943
XVI. Growing Doubts and Hardships at Home
10 February - 6 July 1943
XVII. Good News from Italy, Perils on the Home Front
12 July - 5 September 1943
XVIII. Twilight of the Rogues
9 September - 20 November 1943
XIX. The Old Man’s Wall
21 November - 31 December 1943
XX. Reign of Terror
2 January - 23 February 1944
XXI. All-Out Civil War
29 February - 25 April 1944
XXII. "Poor France!"
27 April – 6 August 1944
XXIII. State of Siege: The Allies Advance
11 August - 24 August 1944
XXIV. The Ransom for Deliverance
25 August 1944 - 27 December 1945
Appendix I: Timeline of Rist’s Movements During the War
Appendix II:

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