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Americans in Paris: Life and Death Under Nazi Occupation Hardcover – January 7, 2010
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"Rich in intrigue and heroism... a fascinating treat." --Antony Beevor, Daily Telegraph (UK)
"Glass, a world-class journalist, proves a gifted historian in this electrifying account of resistance, collaboration, terror, and valor." -- Parade magazine
"[Glass] skillfully uses memoirs, diaries, letters, documents and official records to draw a picture of expatriates caught in a mesh of deceit, bravery, self-sacrifice and fear, and places them in the context of diplomacy and the wider war." --Pittsburgh Post-Gazette --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
A quick check in my library of other works concerning France under German occupation in WWII revealed essentially no information on the people covered by this work. Books like "France Under The Germans", "Verdict On Vichy", "The French Against The French", "Soldiers Of The Night", "Vichy Two Years Of Deception" and "Paris Underground" failed to mention the principal characters in this work, and Ambassador Bullitt only rated a single line in all of the above. Obviously, the French and writers of the French occupation years are interested in only presenting the stories of French citizens -- usually to depict how heroic they were in resisting the Germans. The actual story as we now know is that collaboration was widespread and Vichy was the only Non-German government that voluntarily rounded up and shipped off Jews to Germany for extermination.
So to me, at least, this story of Americans in France during this time was essentially unknown. Some of those individuals covered in this work actively resisted the Germans and some didn't. Nonetheless, I found all of the characters important to form a complete picture of the situation, although some like Charles Bedaux present complex and sometimes contradictory behavior.Read more ›
The problem, I think, is that Glass has approached his subject in an almost encyclopedic way, cramming together the stories of anyone and everyone who was American and who happened to be in Paris between June 1940 and August 1944. The result is jarring, as we move from Sylvia Beach (a fascinating story of the experiences of a Left Bank bookseller and patron of such writers as Hemingway and Joyce) to unknown heroes, like the doctor at the American Hospital in Neuilly, who sacrifices himself to save Allied airmen and others as part of the Resistance. Some have fascinating stories, but simply don't fit well into the overall story, like Charles Bedaux, at whose home the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were married, and who appears to have had no interest in anything but doing business -- with whatever regime he happened to be tied to at the point in time. Technically an American -- and someone who died in American custody -- he's not really representative of the experience of Americans in Paris during this time.
The stories are often compelling, but a good book is more than just a series of stories tied together in chronological chapters; it has some kind of overarching theme or point to it.Read more ›
Americans in Paris follows the fortunes of about half a dozen of these Franco-Americans. They are not a representative sample. Except for a few who show up only in vignettes, all have been the subjects of other books. They include industrialist and efficiency expert Charles Bedaux, the aristocratic de Chambrun family (père an American citizen in his own mind, mère and fils in reality), Dr. Sumner Jackson of the American Hospital in Paris, and Sylvia Beach, proprietress of the original Shakespeare and Company, Paris's leading English language bookstore. I suspect that octogenarian Charles Anderson, a minor business functionary married to a French woman, is more typical. He gets only a passage near the end of the book, and that passage aims to score points against American racism rather than illuminate the experience of living in wartime Paris.
The advantage of the atypical main characters is that they have fascinating, and very different, stories. On one side is Dr. Jackson, who used his hospital position to help downed Allied airmen escape from the Germans. More ambivalent are the Chambruns, who worked to keep the American Hospital and American Library out of Nazi hands but showed no sympathy for the Resistance and were on good terms with Pierre Laval, whose daughter Chambrun fils had married. M.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book, a well-written narrative following the lives of those caught in Paris during WWII. Author Charles Glass's writing style is neither dry nor boring, yet gives enough... Read morePublished 18 days ago by NHBunion
Should be read by every American. Filled with people many of us remember and the unsung heroes of the occupation of Paris. I highly recommend it.Published 9 months ago by Margaret C. Henkel
Clearly written account of life in Paris under occupation - probably little known or understood outside the world of historians .Published 18 months ago by Peggy Pschirrer
A well written, engaging and detailed story ,That both connects the expat community in Paris to the rest of the world, and to the European war world, while describing in detail the... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Richard D Spano
Charles Glass captured the essence of Paris in the lives of expats who braved the Nazi occupation. A great read.Published 23 months ago by Dr. K
A fascinating account - As with all the books written by Charles Glass it is wonderfully written providing views from many perspectives and backed up by incredible research. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Katharine Birks