A History of Family and Fatherland
The story of one of history's most despicable villians told by a brilliant author
This brilliant book tells the story of one of history’s most despicable villains and conmen – Louis Darquier de Pellepoix, Nazi collaborator and ‘Commissioner for Jewish Affairs’, who managed the Vichy government’s dirty work, ‘controlling’ its Jewish population.
Born into an established, politically moderate family, Louis Darquier (‘de Pellepoix’ was a later affectation) proceeded from modest beginnings to dissemble his way to power, continually reinventing himself in conformity with an obsession with racial purity and the latent anti-Semitism of the French Catholic Church. He was the ultimate chancer: always broke, always desperate for attention, social cachet, women and drink, he became ‘one of the few men to put on weight during the Second World War’, and after it was over he decamped to Spain, never to be brought to justice for having sent thousands of Jews, men, women and children, to the camps.
Early on in his career he married the alcoholic Myrtle Jones from Tasmania, equally practised in the arts of fantasy and deception, and together they had a child, Anne Darquier, whom they promptly abandoned to grow up in England under an oppressive mantle of silence. Her tragic story of honourable but exhausting ambition is woven through the narrative.
In Carmen Callil’s masterful and harrowing account, Darquier’s ascent to power during the years leading up to the Second World War comes to mirror the rise of French anti-Semitism and the role it played in the horrors that were to follow. It is a portrait of a society as fragmented and desperate as any before the war, trading miserable second-rate philosophies in search of meaning and power, and of how the people of Vichy turned a blind eye to the shameful things being done under their noses.
“A superb exploration of the fractured mind of French anti-Semitism”
Simon Heffer, Literary Review
“The story she has uncovered is so strange and powerful that it would be an unusual reader who was not profoundly moved”
Kathryn Hughes, Mail on Sunday
“A work of phenomenally thorough, generous and humane scholarship....Callil understands anguish, and lays bare its causes with clarity and precision. Bad Faith exemplifies what Primo Levi called the 'continuous intellectual and moral effort' that is the only adequate response to the events described here”
Hilary Spurling, Daily Telegraph
“Bad Faith is a book of passion and anger which, nonetheless, manages to keep it's head as a significant work of history”
Mark Bostridge, Independent on Sunday
“We cannot know what Anne Darquier would have thought of Callil's book, but my guess is that she would have been as moved, astonished and impressed as any other reader”
Ruth Scurr, The Times
“Extraordinary...touching... a masterpiece of lacerating satire”
Peter Conrad, Observer
“In providing such a detailed picture of one of the functionaries of the Nazi empire, Callil has brilliantly shown how such a system could encourage and promote nonentities who were prepared to mouth the necessary phrases, and to ignore the call of humanity”
Richard Griffiths, New Statesman
“Bad Faith represents eight years of astonishing research...a remarkable book”
Antony Beevor, Sunday Telegraph
Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday
“A meticulous work of scholarship... [an] astonishing biography”
Adam Thorpe, Guardian