A unique WWII history and absorbing story of two bold, unconventional women.

The story of two women artists who courageously resisted Nazi occupation of a small island.

Historian Jackson offers a fresh look at World War II resistance through the lives of Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe, lovers who lived on Jersey, part of the Channel Islands, throughout the Nazi occupation. The daughters of wealthy families in Nantes, the two had fallen in love when they were teenagers, thrived among the avant-garde in Paris in the 1920s and ’30s, and moved to Jersey in 1937 to escape rising oppression and anti-Semitism—Lucy had Jewish heritage—in the French capital. As artists, Lucy took the moniker Claude Cahun and Suzanne, Marcel Moore, with which they signed their creative work: photographs, collages, drawings. “By choosing new identities but also keeping their given names, Lucy and Suzanne remained somewhere between masculine and feminine,” Jackson observes, “resisting either category fully and enjoying the freedom to float between the two when it suited them.” In Jersey, the women were determined to demoralize the occupiers, leaving notes, cartoons, and illustrations throughout the island where soldiers could find them. “Each message,” writes the author, “tried to convince soldiers to lay down weapons, desert, and go home.” With increasing German paranoia about spies and subterfuge, avoiding suspicion was difficult; but it was not until late in the war that the women were arrested, interrogated, tried, and sentenced to death—a sentence successfully appealed. They were released after Germany’s surrender. For Lucy, who suffered many physical and mental debilities, the war “was the one moment in her life when she seemed to have the strongest sense of purpose and the most direct vision about who she wanted to be.” Drawing on archival and genealogical sources, the women’s own writings, and histories of the period, Jackson creates a vivid picture of the tense, fearsome atmosphere of Jersey under Nazi occupation and the perils of resistance.

A unique WWII history and absorbing story of two bold, unconventional women.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-916-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020


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


The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics,...

A provocative analysis of the parallels between Donald Trump’s ascent and the fall of other democracies.

Following the last presidential election, Levitsky (Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America, 2003, etc.) and Ziblatt (Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy, 2017, etc.), both professors of government at Harvard, wrote an op-ed column titled, “Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy?” The answer here is a resounding yes, though, as in that column, the authors underscore their belief that the crisis extends well beyond the power won by an outsider whom they consider a demagogue and a liar. “Donald Trump may have accelerated the process, but he didn’t cause it,” they write of the politics-as-warfare mentality. “The weakening of our democratic norms is rooted in extreme partisan polarization—one that extends beyond policy differences into an existential conflict over race and culture.” The authors fault the Republican establishment for failing to stand up to Trump, even if that meant electing his opponent, and they seem almost wistfully nostalgic for the days when power brokers in smoke-filled rooms kept candidacies restricted to a club whose members knew how to play by the rules. Those supporting the candidacy of Bernie Sanders might take as much issue with their prescriptions as Trump followers will. However, the comparisons they draw to how democratic populism paved the way toward tyranny in Peru, Venezuela, Chile, and elsewhere are chilling. Among the warning signs they highlight are the Republican Senate’s refusal to consider Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee as well as Trump’s demonization of political opponents, minorities, and the media. As disturbing as they find the dismantling of Democratic safeguards, Levitsky and Ziblatt suggest that “a broad opposition coalition would have important benefits,” though such a coalition would strike some as a move to the center, a return to politics as usual, and even a pragmatic betrayal of principles.

The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics, rather than in the consensus it is not likely to build.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6293-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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