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This seems an odd bit of fiction from Nordhoff and Hall, whose fame rests primarily on recapturing the romance and adventure from little known fragments of history. Perhaps, in selecting the flotsam and jetsam that have drifted together under the banner of the Free French, they feel that they are recording just such fragmentary history in the making. Or perhaps their imaginations were caught by some item relating to the innate loyalty and patriotism of those most abandoned of French citizens, the convicts of French Guiana -- Cayenne, to be exact, in this story. A slight book -- a tight little story -- this of a group of desperate men who escaped, through the sacrifice of one of their number, who found refuge with a generous spirited captain, Europe bound to give himself to France, and who repaid in full measure by rescuing ship and captain and loyal Frenchmen from mutineers who had taken over when Vichy France came into power. From this tiny group, some glimpse of part of the pattern that makes the stalwart allies of the democracies is shown, as the story teller (an American journalist) writes of a visit to a hidden air field in Britain under the Free French, where he met two of these convict survivors, and heard their story from their ranking officer. Timely -- fresh -- original -- but in the mass of evidence, just another fragment.

Pub Date: June 15th, 1942
Publisher: Little, Brown