Students of French and World War II history will enjoy and learn from this well-written book.




The plight of ordinary Parisians during World War II.

With access to the diaries of everyday citizens who lived through the Nazi occupation of Paris, Drake assembles a valuable picture of “personal history, remembered conversations, the minutiae of routine, fragments of memory.” Everyone knew the war was coming; it was just a matter of when. By early September 1939, France had civil defense bolstered, men mobilized, and art treasures moved to safety. After the invasion of Poland, France and England declared war on Germany and thus began the “funny sort of war.” The Polish intrusion was a reason to declare war, but the Allies sat back and waited for Hitler to attack them, thereby giving him plenty of time to complete the destruction of Poland. It was not until May 1940 that Hitler, after pushing the British and French to Dunkirk, broke through the Ardennes and caught the French completely by surprise. By June 22, the French had capitulated, and Germany proceeded to dismember her. France was divided into two zones: the occupied zone under German control and the “free zone” led by World War I hero Philippe Pétain and the widely loathed Pierre Laval. Presenting the story chronologically, Drake creates an easily comprehensible, even exciting, narrative. The author vividly portrays the desperation of searching for food, fuel, and clothing, along with the dangers of arrest and false accusations. During the “phony war,” almost 500,000 people left Paris—those with money, a place to go, and the means to get there—only to return to rationing and severe restrictions. The passive resistance, the roundups, the collaborationists, and the young communists are all part of the lore of wartime Paris, and Drake does a solid job exploring how it all affected “Parisians of all ages.”

Students of French and World War II history will enjoy and learn from this well-written book.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-674-50481-3

Page Count: 520

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet