From Publishers Weekly
Riding, a former European cultural correspondent for the New York Times, recounts Parisian life under the Nazi swastika and the forced compromises of French writers, artists, and performers under Hitler's rule. Riding's clear-eyed account lifts the veil on the moral and artistic choices for those who stayed and were forced to decide whether to resist, collaborate, or compromise somewhere in between. Publisher Gaston Gallimard let a German-selected editor run his prestigious Nouvelle Revue Française; in turn, he was able to publish books by authors unsympathetic to the Nazis. While the American government lobbied for emergency visas for gifted refugees who didn't flee to Switzerland or North Africa, some artists and performers hid or performed in cabarets or clubs with non-Aryan restrictions. Maurice Chevalier traveled to Germany to perform for French POWs and was seen by some as a collaborator worthy of death. Among the best examinations of occupied life under the Third Reich, Riding's (Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans) eloquent book speaks of the swift executions of traitors and the women disgraced by having their heads shaved, but admits that the French embraced the myth of national resistance and pushed the Occupation out of their minds. 16 pages of photos.
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“An arresting and detailed account” (Los Angeles Times
) of Paris during the Nazi occupation, this incisive and sympathetic examination resists passing judgment on the men and women forced to endure its ignominies. Instead, it offers keen insights into the ethical quandaries posed by censorship, subjugation, and cooperation. Less concerned with the era’s wide-ranging repercussions, Riding focuses on the stories—revealing anecdotes and character sketches—to endow his subject with a human face. Though Riding does, at times, become too absorbed by details, it is precisely this emphasis on the individual that hones his narrative. Well-researched, evocative, and disturbing, And the Show Went On
is a remarkable exploration of art and artists in the face of repression.