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In the Shadows of War: An American Pilot's Odyssey Through Occupied France and the Camps of Nazi Germany Hardcover – February 6, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; 1st edition (February 6, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805057528
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805057522
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #900,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The paths of three unlikely comrades-a schoolteacher in a rural French town, a downed bomber pilot from Philadelphia, a British-trained French bourgeois saboteur-meet and merge between November 1943 and May 1945. Local teacher Colette Florin, active as support for various resistance operations, provides intermittent shelter on the school's unused upper floor for Pierre Mulsant, who might otherwise have lived comfortably off his family's construction business, after he parachutes in from England in 1943. American flyer Roy Allen, after several successful missions, is shot down in June 1944 and ends up at Florin's schoolhouse as well. Florin is at risk of betrayal not only from collaborators but from neighbors with "petty jealousies and old grievances." As the friendship of the three develops, Allen, restless in confinement, attempts an ill-advised passage to liberated Paris only to be delivered to the Gestapo and sent to Buchenwald. He soon meets up with Mulsant, who has also been betrayed. Mulsant is executed. Allen makes it though the war and visits Florin before returning to the States. University of Pennsylvania historian Childers (The Nazi Voter) delivers this grim, stirring account with rich characterization, believable dialogue, graphic scene setting, telling details and pacing that are rare for military history. He places his heroic central figures among their families, their co-workers (the plane's crew, the transmitter operator, the demolition expert), their co-conspirators (the milkman, the postman, the public prosecutor), those who assist them, those who betray them and those who are their captors and torturers. Using military archives, private papers and interviews as well as memoirs and firsthand accounts, Childers gives us an extensive, pointed cross-section of the war in France from the perspectives of those who knew the stakes, and acted.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

This is a thrilling chronicle of three ordinary young people who did extraordinary things under the intense pressure of war and clandestine resistance. Colette Florin was a schoolteacher in rural France who was gradually drawn into supporting the Resistance; Roy Allen, an American pilot, was shot down just after D-Day and hidden by Colette in her school. Pierre Mulsant was trained in Britain and assumed control of the local Resistance organization in the spring of 1944. The author, a professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, has used interviews, correspondence, and documentary evidence to re-create the interwoven stories of these three brave people. At the same time, Childers illustrates the constant fear, shocking betrayals, and often random brutality that characterized their environment. This outstanding true-life thriller combines the best elements of espionage novels and wartime memoirs, and is a treasure for both scholars and laymen who appreciate a superbly told story. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

THOMAS CHILDERS is the Sheldon and Lucy Hackney Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of five previous books on the Third Reich and World War II, most recently, Wings of Morning and In the Shadows of War.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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If you are a WWII buff or just like a great story, I would highly recommend this book.
Michael A. Farrell
The excellent writing along with the actual story of this adventure made it almost impossible to put this book down.
John P. Rooney
I can't put this book down, reading each page makes me want to turn to the next so that I can learn to know Roy.
Marie Hazzard Smith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Eugene J. Bass on February 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Thomas Childers, a most distinguished professor of history and scholar, has written a gripping true account of an American aviator whose B17 was shot down over occupied France shortly after D-day in 1944. No work of fiction could approach the compelling story of Lt. Roy Allen who was rescued by members of the French resistance and was ultimately the victim of Nazi orchestrated treachery. Protected by a French schoolteacher, her family and friends, in a rural and forest region populated by patriots, his need to return to combat led to months of a hellish existence in the prisons and camps of France and Germany.
Professor Childers writes in a style that is very readable as was his earlier book "The Wings of Morning" and I found it very difficult to put "In The Shadows of War" down. It is definitely an outstanding read!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By John P. Rooney on April 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"In The Shadows Of War" by Thomas Childers. Sub-titled: "An American Pilot's Odyssey Through Occupied France And The Camps Of Nazi Germany". Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2002.
This book is so well written that it reads like a novel, with suspense building up as you turn each page.
Will the B-17 pilot, Roy Allen, escape from his badly damaged aircraft? Will he be captured by the Germans? Or be rescued by the French Resistance? The French get to him first and he is assigned to a hiding place in a small village. The young teacher, Colette Florin, hides him as they all await liberation by the Allied Armies coming from the Normandy Beaches. But the Allies are delayed by fierce fighting that Summer of 1944, and Roy Allen decides to leave the relative safety of Colette Florin's rooms above the girls' school. He wants to travel to occupied Paris to reach the Resistance pipeline to get him out of France. It was here that the "novel" aspects began to overwhelm me. I said to myself that I would not write it that way; it would be more realistic if the American flyer stayed with the French teacher in the so-called "Golden Cage" and wait for the Allied Armies. Then I saw the photo section (between pages 240 & 241), and I was reminded that Roy Allen actually existed! He was NOT a fictional character. Nor was Colette. They, along with Pierre Muslant, lived and struggled in wartime France. Pierre Muslant was a member of the French Resistance who was to help Roy escape via Paris. Along with Roy, Muslant was captured and died in Buchenwald, so there is only a sketch of him, not a photograph.
The excellent writing along with the actual story of this adventure made it almost impossible to put this book down. Just remember, as you read the book, it is fact, not fiction.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey M. Hyder on March 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Following the three main characters through the French underground this story will show how ordinary people did extraordinary things during WWII. Following downed American airman Roy Allen from his shooting down, through his time with the French resistance, and through the Nazi concentration camps the book is hard to put down. I have never read much about the resistance before this book and I got a very good ideal of what these brave citizens went through to aid downed airman. If caught, they would either be shot or sent to labor camps to die. Along the way, you will be introduced to many in the resistance who you will never forget. Unfortunately, some of them never live to see the liberation of France or the end of the war. The part of the book about the concentration camps is sometimes hard to read but, it shows what the human spirit can overcome in the most evil places. My only grip about the book is the large number of characters to following. Many of them (British and French trained agents) change names from one chapter to another as they leave and reenter France. I would love to see a cast of characters page somewhere in the book. Other than that, this book will stay with me for a long time.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Marie Hazzard Smith on October 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
When I was growing up as a young child, Roy Allen and his wife May were very dear friends of my parents. I remember he and May would spend time with us on my parents boat. Roy was always a jokester and made everyone laugh. Now that I am grown, I was extremely excited to find out that there was a book writen about his story. I had no idea of the difficult experiences that he had. Knowing him with his great humor, who would have thought! I can't put this book down, reading each page makes me want to turn to the next so that I can learn to know Roy. I can't wait to see the movie on T.V. - Marie Hazzard Smith
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Ford on March 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I'd give this book 6 stars if the software permitted! Childers has created a searing account of an American airman's life on the run in occupied France, in the hands of the Gestapo, and in the stinking hell of Buchenwald concentration camp. As others have pointed out, the identity of the French resistants can be confusing, as their code names change with different missions, but all you need bear in mind are Colette the schoolteacher, Pierre the secret agent, and Roy Allen the American pilot--their are the "three lives" of the Amazon.com sub-title. Note that the sub-title of the published book is different, as is the photo of the Lysander on the dust jacket. -- Dan Ford
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. C. Melsheimer on January 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
i must say i am not the most advid reader in the world but when i bought this book i could not put it down. this book has it all, great adventures rich with texture and amazing characters!

there are many subplots to this book which also help advance the story to a wonderful ending. what a great movie this book would make and the fact that it really happend makes it even more compelling. thomas childers is a wonderful rich story teller. thanks for a great read!
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