Robert O. Paxton

Robert O. Paxton (born 1932 in Lexington, Virginia) is an American political scientist and historian specializing in Vichy France, fascism, and Europe during the World War II era. Paxton was born in Lexington, Virginia, and studied at Washington and Lee University for B.A. He earned his M.A. at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He earned his Ph.D. at Harvard University. Paxton taught at the University of California, Berkeley and the State University of New York at Stony Brook before joining the faculty of Columbia University in New York, where he is now Mellon Professor Emeritus of Social Science in the Department of History. Paxton was called to testify at the trial of Maurice Papon (1910–2007), who was convicted for crimes against humanity in 1998. In April, 2009, the French government awarded Paxton the Legion d'honneur. Paxton is best known for his 1972 book Vichy France, Old Guard and New Order, 1940-1944, in which he argued that Vichy collaboration with Germany was a voluntary program entered into by the Vichy government, not forced upon it by German pressure. It is considered one of the path-breaking works on France in the Vichy era.

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