Compelling stories of a group of brave French women in Nazi-occupied France.

Of the so-called Convoi des 31,000, including 230 women political prisoners sent to Auschwitz in January 1943, only a handful survived to tell the horrendous tale of their plight. Biographer Moorehead (Dancing to the Precipice: The Life of Lucie de la Tour du Pin, Eyewitness to an Era, 2009, etc.) interviewed survivors of the convoy and tracked down family and stories of numerous others to reconstruct a fraught period in French history when collaboration was assumed the norm, while underneath seethed a current of active subversion. After the shock of the arrival of the Nazis in Paris in June 1940, the Vichy government advised the French citizens to cooperate with the Germans. While most French didn’t protest the treatment of exiles and Jews, some did, especially idealistic youth who had been radicalized in the ’30s by the Spanish Civil War. One of the women, a dentist named Danielle Casanova, was the leader of a youth wing of the French Communist Party who recruited other young women secretaries and office workers as couriers of underground literature. With the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, resistance against the Nazis was ratcheted up and acts of sabotage were endorsed by the various factions of the Resistance. Unfortunately, the German spy network, aided by French police, grew more alert, and after attacks at the metro and in Rouen, Nantes and Bordeaux, traps were set and a sweep of “terrorists” netted by March 1942. The prisoners, both women and men, were first sent to La Santé, in Paris, where they were interrogated and tortured, then to the military fort of Romainville, before deportation to Auschwitz. Moorehead weaves into her suspenseful, detailed narrative myriad personal stories of friendship, courage and heartbreak. A sound study of research and extensive interviewing.


Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-165070-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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