Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 187
Camus’s widely known first novel, The Stranger (1942), is about an alienated, aimless young Algerian man who gets caught up in bad company and ends up murdering an Arab. His subsequent imprisonment and trial reflect Camus’s view of the absurd nature of life.
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Vichy France (revised edition, 2001), by Robert O. Paxton, is a classic study of France under the German occupation in World War II. Paxton shows how the Pétain government pursued a double agenda: an authoritarian and racist revolution at home and an attempt to persuade Hitler to accept this new France as a partner in German-dominated Europe.
Alfred Cobban, in A History of Modern France: 1871–1962 (1965), presents a readable overview of modern French history, including the tragic years of the German occupation and the Vichy government.
Plagues and People (updated edition, 1998), by William H. McNeill, examines the enormous political, demographic, ecological, and psychological impact that infectious diseases have made on human history. Among the topics McNeill discusses are the medieval black death, the epidemic of smallpox in Mexico that followed the Spanish conquest, the bubonic plague in China, and the typhoid epidemic in Europe.