Paris 1935: Destiny’s Crossroads

Written by Paul A. Myers
Review by B. N. Peacock

“. . . art illuminates politics . . .” says Marcelle Lambert, one of the lead characters in Paris 1935. This summarizes Paul Myers’ approach: writing used as a vehicle to understanding period politics. As Marcelle and Dexter Jones meet and fall in love, a world that desperately wants to avoid another world war makes the missteps that will make one inevitable. Upper-level civil servant Marcelle is detailed to the office of the premier and foreign minister of France, Pierre Laval. Dexter, a savvy young diplomat, stands on the sidelines watching senior diplomats from France and England (Laval and his British counterpart, Sir Samuel Hoare) jockey to save Ethiopia from Italy, protect their national interests, and oh, yes, fulfill their League of Nations commitments as well. The result is the Hoare-Laval Agreement, which then (and now) can be alternately viewed as an act of base appeasement or, as Churchill put it, had it been invoked, “a shrewd, farseeing agreement which could have saved . . . Abyssinia (Ethiopia).” Meanwhile, Adolf Hitler watches intently—and re-militarizes the Rhineland. Marcelle and Dexter plan their wedding. But will they marry, for Marcelle vows she will never dessert France? Paris 1935 is a complex book that takes us into the back rooms of high-level officials, writers, and media stars in order to understand why events happened as they did. The book’s presentation, both cover and printing, is professional, with the artwork consisting of period reproductions. Involved and intriguing, Myers’ work definitely is worth reading.