AN ARMY OF AMATEURS by Philippe de Vomecourt


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Sixteen years after the war's end, there is published the leader's personal account of that part of the French underground which was directed by British intelligence. The author started to organize resistance right after the fall of France, and, though the father of seven children, continued to take enormous risks throughout the war. He got a post as a railroad inspector, which allowed him a special Gestapo pass, by which means he could travel freely through the country, insuring that military supply trains became 'lost'. Arrested by the French police (probably for his own protection) he spent some time in various French jails before he masterminded an escape in which he took 30 others with him. Exhausted and weak from prison diet, he struggled over the Pyrenees to Spain, and so to England. After special training, he returned to France, and continued his work to the very end of the war, harassing the retreating Germans, and in turn being frustrated by the American military command. The author correctly supposes his philosophy may be out of date. At one point, a German officer recognizes, and respects, his fierce patriotism, but the author fails to perceive how unflattering this is. Readable, but with the edge off its topical interest, this book is too loosely constructed -- consists of too many diverse incidents -- to be a first - rate espionage story.

Publisher: Doubleday