An Honourable Exit
From the International Booker Prize shortlisted author of The Order of the Day and The War of the Poor comes a searing account of a conflict that dealt a fatal blow to French colonialism.
A NEW YORKER BEST BOOK OF 2023
'Excoriating and profound . . . A remarkable work' - Scotsman
'Absolutely spectacular' - France Info
19 October 1950. The war is not going to plan. In Paris, politicians gather to discuss what to do about Indochina. The conflict is unpopular back home in France: too expensive, and too far away for the public to care. Withdrawal is not an option – a global power cannot surrender to an army of peasants – but victory is impossible without more soldiers and more money. The soldiers can be sourced from the colonies, but the money is out of the question. A solution needs to be found.
In this gripping and shocking novel, Éric Vuillard exposes the tangled web of politicians, bankers and titans of industry who all had a vested interest in France’s prolonged presence in lands far from Paris. Skilfully skewering the guilty, Vuillard shows us how key players in conflicts throughout history often have a motivation even deeper and darker than nationalism and political ideology – greed. As well as bringing scenes from the battlefields to life, Vuillard looks beyond this visceral reality on the ground to the cold calculations of the boardroom elite with the power to turn a military win or loss into their financial gain.
Short, sharp and brutal, An Honourable Exit is a journey behind closed doors to witness how history is really made.
Excoriating and profound . . . A remarkable work . . . I cannot think of an Anglophone author who writes with such polemical, poetical indignation
Powerful . . . An entracingly nightmarish analysis of the First Indochina War
Graham Robb, The Spectator
Clever and scathing