A profound historical portrait of Paris for anyone who loves the city.




An exploration of “what it would have been like to be [in Paris] under the German Occupation during the Second World War.”

The City of Light passed the war years in a period of sustained urban anxiety, when lives were constantly disrupted and fear reigned. France’s army, “the uninspired being led by the incompetent,” surrendered to the Nazis in June 1940. Rosbottom (Arts and Humanities, French and European Studies/Amherst Coll.) explains the interactions of the French and their occupiers in a way that illuminates their separate miseries. He makes us see that we can never judge those who lived during the occupation just because we know the outcome. If you think you might live the rest of your life under Nazi control, you do everything you can just to survive, feed your family and not get arrested. Who can judge what is accommodation, appeasement, acceptance, collaboration or treason? When they moved in, the Germans requisitioned all automobiles, rationed food, established curfews and cut back on power. The French police were merely German puppets, responsible for nearly 90 percent of the Jewish arrests. The members of the Vichy government were equally reviled. The author attentively includes German and French letters and journals that explain the loneliness, desperation and the very French way of getting by. Both during and after the war, the French seemed to be highly prone to denouncing their fellow resistors, neighbors, friends and family, but the Resistance was nothing like we’re shown in many popular portrayals. Instead, there was mostly quiet defiance, such as whistling when Nazis trooped by or printing anti-German and anti-Vichy tracts. The Resistance was only truly effective the few days before and after D-Day. Otherwise, the foolhardy deeds of a few young, disorganized men brought brutal reprisals and misery.

A profound historical portrait of Paris for anyone who loves the city.

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-316-21744-6

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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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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