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Eleven Days in August: The Liberation of Paris in 1944 [Paperback]

Matthew Cobb
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

27 Mar 2014
'The final days of the German occupation of the French capital are vividly captured in this fine account of death and deliverance' Sir Max Hastings The liberation of Paris was a momentous point in twentieth-century history, yet it is now largely forgotten outside France. Eleven Days in August is a pulsating hour-by-hour reconstruction of these tumultuous events that shaped the final phase of the war and the future of France, told with the pace of a thriller. While examining the conflicting national and international interests that played out in the bloody street fighting, it tells of how, in eleven dramatic days, people lived, fought and died in the most beautiful city in the world. Above all, it shows that while the liberation of Paris may be attributed to the audacity of the Resistance, the weakness of the Germans and the strength of the Allies, the key to it all was the Parisians who by turn built street barricades and sunbathed on the banks of the Seine, who fought the Germans and simply tried to survive until the Germans finally surrendered, in a billiard room at the Prefecture of Police. One of the most iconic moments in the history of the twentieth century had come to a close, and the face of Paris would never be the same again.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (27 Mar 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857203185
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857203182
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 13 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 159,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'The fullest account imaginable of the Battle for Paris. Cobb s narrative . . . hurtles along, illuminated by blazing details. Admirable . . . epic' New Statesman

'He paints a detailed portrait of celebration and tragedy. This is a detailed, very human account of a complicated situation' --Daily Mail

About the Author

MATTHEW COBB is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester. He has translated five books from French into English, and spent most of his adult life as a researcher in Paris, before returning to the UK in 2002.

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eleven Days in August 19 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This account of the liberation of Paris in 1944 takes the reader from the early hope of June-July, through the main events of August, and on to the restoration of the city in later months. The German Army marched into Paris on the 14th June 1940 and occupied the city for the next four years; during which time the population of the city were oppressed, exploited and suffered rationing and shortages. In London, General Charles de Gaulle called for French resistance to the occupation. In this book, the author uses diaries and eye-witness accounts to show personal experiences and includes the views of both the French and Germans, members of the resistance, occupiers and members of the public caught up in momentous events.

However, the liberation of Paris was not easy or unified. The resistance wanted a mass, popular insurrection to drive out the Germans and take power. The Gaullists wanted the resistance and population to be passive participants in de Gaulle's triumphant entry into Paris. As the possibility of liberation came into sight, those involved kept an eye on events in Warsaw, also rebelling in anticipation of Soviet troops arriving and the fierce reprisals this had unleashed. Paris was both wary and worried that they could easily become such a battleground.

This was a time of strikes, threats, rumours and panic. General von Choltitz was ordered to take command as Commander of the city until "the end", but many German soldiers were stealing bicycles from civilians in order to flee. Field Marshal Walter Model, loyal to Hitler, turned up at Choltitz's headquarters with a handwritten order giving him command over all German troops in the West.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of times, the worst of times 23 Jun 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Just what was it like to be in Paris during those heady days before its final liberation from the Nazis?

This book tells the story of all the competing factions for post-war power in France, and how the uneasy truce between them finally prepared the city and its residents for the day when it was free again.

It's a story of joy, bravery, and pathos. the best and worst of humanity laid bare for all to see.

Its compelling reading for anyone who wants to know what it was like to share the city's finest hours of WW2.
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5.0 out of 5 stars SUPERLATIVE HISTORY CHRONICLE 30 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The art of relating historical periods and events cannot get any better than the story of the final days of the German occupation of Paris in 'Eleven Days In August' by Matthew Cobb.

For the story of one of the most turbulent periods in the life that great city of Paris, the reader is literally given a place on one of the many barricades blocking the streets of the city by the resistance and ordinary citizens to thwart the German occupation, such is the realism generated by the author.

I did not think that an account of a mere 11 days could keep my interest, but how wrong was that! I was captivated by the evolving events, and the struggles, hardships, dangers, and brutality that the citizens of Paris were exposed to, and could not put the book down.

Comes with my highest recommendation.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written and informative. 28 April 2014
Tells an interesting (factual) story about the Leclerc divison, the resistance and the German occupiers.
So, there was a ceasefire and Von Choltitz didn't really put up much resistance himself!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Exciting History 3 Jan 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Matthew Cobb has provided a vivid, moving and thrilling account of the liberation of Paris in 1944. The story is mainly in the words of the people who were there - members of the Resistance, German soldiers, "ordinary" Parisians. The author delved deep in the Archives Nationales to unearth previously unpublished diaries and memoirs. Accompanying the book is a website which includes a dramatic film made at the time, as well as maps, photographs and audios of radio broadcasts. Eleven Days is a multi-media production. What does it tell us?
The notes, which comprise almost half the text, reveal just how much uncertainty surrounds most of the events described. This includes when meetings took place, who attended them and what decisions they made. It extends to military actions, generally brief stand-offs and shoot outs. But the chaos and confusion are very much part of the events themselves. Into the narrative Matthew Cobb also weaves key questions of politics and strategy: did de Gaulle want an insurrection? Did the Allies take Paris to prevent another Warsaw or to prevent a Communist rising? Did the Germans give the city up or did the French seize it back?
The insurrection acquired mythic status even while it was going on. It has affected the history of "France's war" ever since. As Cobb shows there were heroes and heroines in August - they gave their young lives, they are commemorated in plaques and street names today. The film on the website shows millions on the victory parade, but only a brave few engaged in the days of fighting. The author shows that most of the barricades went up in the working class areas, while there was not a single person even wounded in the posh 16th arrondissement. Perhaps they were busy sewing their tricolours.
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