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The Resistance: The French Fight Against the Nazis Paperback – June 1, 2013
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"Fabulous . . . painstakingly researched, even-handed and dripping with poignancy. . . . A good book about the French Resistance has long been overdue. It has now arrived." —Glasgow Herald
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Top international reviews
Anybody familiar with the film, 'The Man who shot Liberty Valance,' will remember that famous quip.
It could equally apply to the French Resistance. Charting their history from France's humiliating defeat at the hands of the German in 1940 ( a six week campaign that stunned the world) we learn of the total paralysis that struck France, a nation unable to comprehend the disaster that befell it.
As antipathy is replaced by defiance, we learn of the Resistance in its infancy, and how it struggled to get off the ground. In fact, many people considered it a nuisance, pinprick attacks that had no real military impact, but brought crushing retribution from the German occupiers in return.
As the tides of war shifted against Germany, and forced labour acts were met by defiance from the French, the resistance bloomed.
By liberation day in 1944, every man and his dog was claiming resistance membership, much to the annoyance of those who had fought alone, and had been dismissed as fools, for years.
It is at this moment that Cobb earns his salt - separating fact from fiction, myths from reality.
As a primer to a crucial chapter of French history, this book is first class.
This would be a better book if it was written less as a lecture and more as a series of stories. I realised it's a factual book, but that doesn't mean it has to be dull. Simple things like shorter sentences and using active instead of passive voice would make a huge difference.
I also bumped up against a couple of inaccuracies that jarred for me. Basic things like the author stating the Battle of Britain had not yet begun by 31 July 1940 and wrongly referring to D-Day as Operation Overload instead of Overlord, not once but twice. It made me wonder what else was incorrect. Mr Cobb's habit of repeatedly calling the German army "Nazi soldiers" at the same time as explicitly stating that the rank and file were generally not Nazis, just soldiers following orders also bothered me.
It's not a bad book, but it's not as interesting as a book about this fascinating slice of history should be.
As an aside, I read the Kindle edition and the book itself finishes at 58%. The rest of the space is taken up with the glossary, bibliography, further reading, notes and a list of people and what happened to them. It made the book seem very slow going.
I know without question that the author has done a great service in collating this information to help people salute the sacrifices made for France and the rest of the world in those dark times.
Well worth reading.
Personal stories are related and the sacrifices made by members of the resistance are told to great effect.
I think Matthew Cobb has succeeded in producing a book that throws light on the Resistance in a way that has not been done before. A fascinating book.
It is spoiled very slightly by the occasional error (probably in transcription) the most notable one being reference to the Normandy landings (D-Day) as "Operation Overland". Apart from that it made fascinating, and sometimes grim, reading.