A new appreciation of the extraordinary life and legacy of Leon Blum, the first Jewish prime minister of France Leon Blum (1872-1950), France's prime minister three times, socialist activist, and courageous opponent of the pro-Nazi Vichy regime, profoundly altered French society. It is Blum who is responsible for France's forty-hour week and its paid holidays, which were among the many reforms he championed as a deputy and as prime minister, while acting as a proudly visible Jew, a Zionist, and eventually a survivor of Buchenwald. This biography fully integrates Blum's Jewish commitments into the larger story of his life. Unlike previous biographies that downplay the significance of Blum's Jewish heritage on his progressive politics, Pierre Birnbaum's portrait depicts an extraordinary man whose political convictions were shaped and driven by his cultural background. The author powerfully demonstrates how Blum's Jewishness was central to his outlook and mission, from his earliest entry into the political arena in reaction to the Dreyfus Affair, and how it sustained and motivated him throughout the remainder of his life.
Birnbaum's Leon Blum is a critical chapter in the larger history of Jews in France.
One of France's most eminent political sociologists, Pierre Birnbaum is professor emeritus at the Sorbonne. He is the author or co-author of seventeen books, including Anti-Semitism in France,The Jews of the Republic, and Geography of Hope. He is co-editor, with Ira Katznelson, of Paths for Emancipation.