Monday, June 28, 2010

The Trial of Madame Caillaux

by Edward Berenson

An engaging work, benefits from close focus on a pivotal and inherently interesting incident. The titular trial concerned the wife of a French former prime minister being charged with the murder of a journalist that had spread scandal of the couple, focusing less on the evidence than the presumed character of Madame Caillaux. At the time, the publicity around the trial was large enough to drown out news of Archduke Ferdinand’s assassination.

The account takes a segmented approach, moving roughly chronologically through the trial and focusing on different individuals involved, from the accused herself to her husband to the judge to the victim. In this process, Berenson explores the impact of gender, politics, the media and honor on French culture of the Third Republic. Unique, well structured and engaging, with elements to draw in boh general readers of history and specialists.

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