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.
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 FreemanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved