Julian Jackson uses Pétain's three-week trial as a lens through which to examine the central crisis of twentieth-century French history - the defeat of 1940, the signing of the armistice and Vichy's policy of collaboration - what the main prosecutor Mornet called 'four years to erase from our history'. As head of the Vichy regime in the Second, Pétain became one of France's most notorious public figures, and the lightening-rod for collective guilt and retribution immediately after the Second World War. In France on Trial Jackson blends politics and personal drama to explore how different national factions sought to try to claim the past, or establish their interpretation of it, as a way of claiming the present and future.
Julian Jackson is Emeritus Professor of History at Queen Mary, University of London and one of the foremost British scholars of twentieth-century France. A Certain Idea of France: The Life of Charles de Gaulle won the Duff Cooper Prize, the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography, the American Library in Paris Award, the Franco-British Society Literary Prize, the Grand Prix de la Biographie Politique du Touquet and the Prix Special du Jury de Prix de Géopolitique. His other books include France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944, which was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times History Book Award, and The Fall of France, which won the Wolfson History Prize in 2004. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques and Officier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.