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Livre noir, 1939–1945

Literature of the Liberation

The most visually powerful of all the books published in this period is a portfolio of 30 loose plates with an introduction by André Billy. Chancel was a professional illustrator and created these incisive images around the format of a date, an event and a comment. He is better known as a Resistance leader, won the Croix de Guerre in both world wars, was a commander of the Légion d’honneur, and was made an OBE. The plates start and end with ‘Doulce France’ (an archaic spelling of ‘douce’): France sits peacefully in the sun in 1939 while in 1945 Marianne, the symbol of the Republic, is left to clear up the mess.