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War on the Margins [Hardcover]

Libby Cone
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 15, 2009
France has fallen to the Nazis. Britain is under siege. As BBC bulletins grow bleak, residents of Jersey abandon their homes in their thousands. When the Germans take over, Marlene Zimmer, a shy clerk at the Aliens Office, must register her friends and neighbours as Jews while concealing her own heritage, until eventually she is forced to flee. Layers of extraordinary history unfold as we chart Marlene's transformation from unassuming office worker to active Resistance member under the protection of artists Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, who manage to find poetry in the midst of hardship and unimaginable danger. Drawn from authentic World War II documents, broadcasts and private letters, "War on the Margins" tells the unforgettable story of the deepening horror of the Nazi regime in Jersey and the extraordinary bravery of those who sought to subvert it.

Editorial Reviews


'Seventy years after we declared war on Germany, it is worth remembering that, while mainland Britain struggled to keep at bay the threat of Nazi invasion, the people of the Channel Islands knew just what such an invasion could mean... What makes this story so compelling is the way in which original documents and papers are interspersed, highlighting the gradual erosion and ultimate destruction of the rights of the Jewish islanders. A very timely book indeed' - Daily Mail. 'A hardback gem of Jewish resistance, chilling, charming and interspersed with authentic papers and broadcasts of the time' - Jewish Chronicle. 'Libby capably and confidently weaves a pitch-perfect novel out of the facts surrounding the oppression ... gripping, heart-rending reading' - Dovegreyreader.


This is an unforgettable read about the effects that WW11 had on the lives of the people of Jersey. To read it is to weep at the atrocities and unfairness, to rage at how this was allowed to happen, but ultimately to rejoice in the determined survival spirit that shone through. The fact that these events really took place and that they are not the invention of the author makes it all the more heart wrenching to read. Libby Cone has written her book in a sensitive manner and even allowed moments of humour to creep in. The author also used actual radio broadcasts of the time and several of the book's characters were real people, not inventions from Cone's mind, which makes the book all the more poignant. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 245 pages
  • Publisher: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd (July 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0715638769
  • ISBN-13: 978-0715638767
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,505,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive Work that Brings it all Home May 7, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Libby Cone's War on the Margins is quite an eye-opener for anyone who has adopted their view of World War II solely from the History Channel. In her own words: "War is not neat and tidy." This view of the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands and the struggles of the natives and immigrants, is thorough and brings home the isolation and trevail of war, and this particular war with its anti-semetic acts.

Blending memoranda, epistolary and journal-style narrative, Libby Cone shows us how the sensitivities of people trying to cope with their outer and the inner world, either rise to the occassion or fight their personal arcs. From wrestling and slaughtering a pig in a bathtub to having to visit foreign code on your former neighbors, we see a different aspect of this terrible conflict in human terms. This isn't your newsreel. This is watching people who live in History's margin - marginalized people, if you will, struggling to stay true and loyal to their ideals, or at least minimizing the compromise. When I first picked up this book I thought I would be reading about some footnote in history, but as it turns out, Libby Cone has introduced me to the headlines of real people who lived through the confict. Impressive.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read novel by Libby Cone March 9, 2008
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The following is a review of the Kindle Edition: "War on the Margins" is a very well researched, fascinating account of the frightening, horrendous Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands of England during World War II.

Focused primarily on Jersey Island, this historical-fiction novel follows a young Jewish woman, Marlene Zimmer, throughout the war years of occupation. We struggle with her as this heretofore timid and nervous young woman--and what innocent wouldn't be under these grim circumstances?--gathers strength and maturity to aid two famous French women in their Resistance efforts against the occupiers.

The French women, based on real individuals, are a pair of superb tricksters--especially during the war years. The two women, who serve as Marlene's mentors, are an integral part of the story. As such, they apply numerous, largely effective acts of Resistance against a relentless and remorseless enemy. How they do so is woven throughout the story, as you will learn, but which I've not included in this review to avoid introducing spoilers.

Even though experiencing virtual starvation and beset by fear, Marlene continues to develop an inner strength to try to help others and herself in their constant battle against the odds of survival.

I learned a lot of history and geography from reading this interesting book. and it has prompted me to research the Channel Islands of England even as they stand today.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What if the Nazis had won? July 17, 2008
The occupation of the channel islands by the Germans during world war Two gives the best possible insight into what life in Britain would have been like had Hitler won.
The remarkable account of the occupation is a must-read for anyone who wishes to get a flavor of the nazi mind-set, and how it affected the lives, loves and behavior of the islanders.
Perhaps the most frightening aspect of the occupation was just how gradually the Nazis tightened the noose around the island people. Impersonal, matter-of-fact bulletins from the German commander politely instructed Jews - anyone with slight Jewish antecedents - to report to the town hall to register their names. All quite innocent, and gradually the demands increase. Register any business interests, your nationality, wear identification, have a red mark on your file. It slowly builds up to the true horrors in store for those the Germans regarded as sub-human.

In the middle of this, how did the islands cope? How did life continue?

Libby Cone has produced a compelling account of just that. She takes you back to that dreadful time, when Hitler ruled Europe, and shows how ordinary people were caught up in the nazi horror. The gradual creeping of the restrictions on liberty have a resonance today.

Yet amid the harrow, there is love and humanity. To really understand how WW11 changed lives forever, read this book
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life on the Island May 26, 2008
Although it is impossible to put yourself in the place of the characters of this novel, there are parts of the book which let you come close. Particularly haunting is the way the Nazi machine "benignly" registers Jersey citizens, and then quickly moves on to more and more malignant methods of alienation of its Jewish citizenry. War on the Margins, although not a great read for a weekend on the beach, was quite fitting for Memorial Day. Sprinkled in through out the text are beautiful metaphors which further provide a sense of place and feeling. Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intensity Squared May 27, 2008
Format:Kindle Edition
At first I thought I wasn't going to be able to enjoy this book. Ms. Cone has a writing style unlike those I'm more familiar and comfortable with. Her sentence structure is terse and truncated. Then, as the characters came alive for me, the personal writing style morphed into a high intensity form of tension completely relaying the character's manic internal sense of survival.
Their daily struggle, in that little back corner of World War II, became riveting.
A solid read, through and through.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Could this have been Great Britain if ............?
This book was a real eye-opener for me, while I knew that the Germans had occupied the Channel Islands during WWII, I had no idea that life was so difficult for the inhabitants,... Read more
Published on July 17, 2010 by Mrs. C. Colbert
4.0 out of 5 stars Fresh Look at World War II
When France fell to the Nazis during WWII, the Channel Islands fell as well, despite the fact that they were a part of the British Commonwealth. Read more
Published on July 1, 2009 by Literate Housewife
4.0 out of 5 stars A story of human survival
In using the British Channel Islands as her setting, Libby Cone provides us with an interesting microcosm of the Nazi European occupation during World War II. Read more
Published on December 3, 2008 by Jeffry S Hepple
3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 stars
"War on the Margins" will make you painfully aware of the harsh reality Jewish citizens were subjected to during one of the most tragic events in recent history - WWII and the... Read more
Published on October 22, 2008 by L. Langston
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and ambitious but soulless
If you liked The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (I didn't particularly care for it), you might like War on the Margins, which also tells the story of the German... Read more
Published on October 11, 2008 by G. Dawson
4.0 out of 5 stars War in a time of loss of standards
The book does a very nice job of showing the moral complexity of life under occupation. All of the rules of civilized society are gone and those (on the margins of society) are... Read more
Published on June 22, 2008 by Rydal book reader
4.0 out of 5 stars An Unexpected Gem
World War Two will likely be an endless source of interesting stories for as long as memory of the twentieth century survives. Read more
Published on June 4, 2008 by Michael R. Hicks
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive Work that Brings it all Home
Libby Cone's War on the Margins is quite an eye-opener for anyone who has adopted their view of World War II solely from the History Channel. Read more
Published on May 5, 2008 by Edward C. Patterson
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More About the Author

Libby Cone is a practicing radiologist who needed more work to do, so she earned an MA in Jewish Studies. "War on the Margins" is based on her thesis about the German occupation of the Channel Islands during WWII.

A chance mention on the Web of a utopian settlement in Colonial Delaware gave Libby the idea for her next book, "Flesh and Grass." It is loosely based on the ill-fated Plockhoy settlement in what is now Lewes, Delaware, and is narrated by the blind son of the founder.

"Rebeckah Leveridge" is a short story about a weaver married to a man with an avaricious family and a strange secret. It is based on information discovered while researching "Flesh and Grass."

"Quantum Fashionistas" is a quantum fiction short story about shoes, Jews, and the multiverse.

Libby lives in Philadelphia with her husband and many pets.


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