FRANCE: Devil's Advocate

Last week Pierre Laval came to judgment. With him came none of the dreadful pity, the sense of terrible duty that had been in every Frenchman's heart during the trial, death sentence and commutation to life imprisonment, of old Marshal Henri P├ętain. The elimination of Pierre Laval, a necessary chore, might have been a satisfying vengeance. He made it a shameful farce.

The sunken-cheeked, 62-year-old Auvergnat wore his usual white tie, looked more than ever like a peasant dressed in untidy Sunday clothes. But he was a peasant of genius. He took the...

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