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Americans in Paris: Life and Death under Nazi Occupation 1940-44 Paperback – 4 Feb 2010

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Americans in Paris: Life and Death under Nazi Occupation 1940-44 + The Tribes Triumphant: Return Journey to the Middle East
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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress (4 Feb. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000722852X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007228522
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 64,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

‘[A] fascinating and absorbing account…he makes us think again about the nature of life in occupied Paris and refreshes what many would consider something of a tired and overworked period of contemporary history…Glass writes with great fluency and verve and evident scholarship and has unearthed facts and figures that both illuminate and perturb.’ William Boyd, Sunday Times

‘Charles Glass’s highly impressive new book tells us of an assortment of US citizens who remained in Paris during the war. Glass describes the various realities with just the right combination of objectivity and compassion; this is a moving and deeply thought-provoking book.’ Noel Malcolm, Sunday Telegraph

‘An account of the 2,000 Americans who remained in Paris during the Second World War is rich in intrigue and heroism…for anyone interested in France during this period it is a fascinating treat.’ Antony Beevor, Daily Telegraph

‘Wartime France comes alive in Glass’s new book…a fine piece of historical research, and powerful insight into one of the darkest periods of modern European history.’ Evening Standard

About the Author

Charles Glass is the author of ‘Tribes with Flags’, ‘Money for Old Rope’ and ‘The Tribes Triumphant’. A world-famous journalist, he was Chief Middle East Correspondent for ABC News from 1983 to 1993, and has covered wars in Lebanon, Eritrea, Rhodesia, Somalia, Iraq, Egypt and Bosnia-Herzegovina. His writing appears in the Independent and the Spectator. Born in Los Angeles, he has no fixed abode and divides his time between Paris, Tuscany, Lebanon and London.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By T Westcott on 23 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback
This is, as many reviewers have said, an extremely well-researched book, telling the story of the Americans caught in Paris at the outbreak of world war two, while the country was still officially neutral though very much on the side of the free French and the British and against the Nazis and Vichy. The author has chosen to tell the story through the experience of a myriad of individuals, ranging from those who are unequivocally heroes - in particular Dr Sumner Jackson, chief surgeon of the American Hospital, who refused to admit German army patients and ran an escape network for allied airmen throughout the occupation - to some more dubious characters.

The closeness to power of many of these individuals also at times provides fascinating insights into the war. But it also becomes annoying - I felt at times I was reading a kind of Harpers-&-Queen-goes-to-war, where the experiences of posh people are foregrounded over the real suffering that was going on. An example of the extraneous, gossipy detail about minor characters: "A Pan Am employee handed Rene an urgent message from Marguerite Leland, FDR's longtime private secretary and, unknown to Rene, sometime mistress of Ambassador Bullitt."

Much less boring is the fascinating insight the book gives into the bond between France and the US stemming from the American revolution, when the French were the first to send troops to help them fight the British. And FDR's covert or (perhaps not so covert) support for the British before the US was actually at war. And the racism of the US armed forces - Leclerc's 2nd armoured division was given a key role in the allied invasion of France because it was the whitest French unit.
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Format: Paperback
This book follows the lives of a number of American citizens - some natural-born, some the French-born children of Americans parents, other naturalised citizens - who chose to remain behind in Paris following the invasion by the Nazis in 1940. Their lives are all very different, one a doctor in the American Hospital, another a bookseller, a third a naturalised business and entrepreneur; and they all chose very different paths in reaction to the German occupation, ranging from the extremes of resistance and collaboration, to those in the middle just trying to survive.

Americans in Paris had a particular peculiar experience throughout the course of the war, beginning as neutral citizens protected by their American status and ending up as enemy combatants. At the outset of the war American lives and property were safeguarded by the Nazis, a position that enabled many to covertly use their positions to assist the Resistance. But when Japan bombed Pearl Harbour and Germany declared war on the United States, the majority of American citizens were rounded up and held in camps, admittedly relatively luxurious compared to the POW, death and labour camps.

This is a very well-researched book, and it really brings to life a number of fascinating characters, particularly Sumner Jackson and Charles Bedaux, the former the heroic doctor at the American Hospital who, along with his wife and son, risked his life helping Allied airmen escape, the latter a businessmen who collaborated with Vichy France and Nazi Germany. My only criticism was that it sometimes seemed to be more concerned with those Americans at the higher end of the social echelon; I can't believe there were no poor or struggling Americans left in Paris to talk about.
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By Mr. Leong Wai Hong on 3 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
A wonderful atmospheric story of the 5000 Americans who chose to remain in Paris under Nazi occupation. There is such a vast literature on World War 2 but this story is unfamiliar to most.
The Americans whose stories are told here include Sylvia Beach the owner of the famous bookshop, Shakespeare and Co and William Bullitt the American Ambassador. Bullitt chose not to flee despite orders from Roosevelt. As Bullitt puts it- Not a single American Ambassador had run away during the French Revolution and other uprisings right up to the First World War and he won't be the first to cut and run p 13 )
Bullitt had an interesting life. He married the widow to John Reed who wrote the famous reportage of the Russian revolution ' Ten days that shook the war'. He was part of the American delegation to the Versailles Treaty but resigned in protest against the term that abandoned 36 million Chinese in Shantung to Japan.

i highly recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This account was not easy to get into, the first chapters introduced lots of names, all totally unfamiliar to me, and as a non-American not easy to place in context. Gradually it became clear that there would be several threads to the book revolving around some main individuals with varying degrees of interconnection. The history is told from an American viewpoint. The theory and practicality of "neutrality" during the Nazi era is explored. The roles of the Vichy or collaborationist French and the Free or resistant French are also examined. Ambivalence about trust between the Allies comes through. References to the English or British are not always complimentary or reassuring, I persevered to the end of the book. I am glad I read it, it filled in a large gap in my knowledge about this period, but as the title indicates it covers a small and quite specific subject.
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