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Resistance: Memoirs of Occupied France: Translated by Barbara Mellor Paperback – 6 Jul 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (6 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747596743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747596745
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 150,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Sober and testifying, sardonic and humorous A beautiful and powerful work of literature' Michele Roberts, The Times 'Humbert's memoir bears witness to innumerable horrors, presented here with a pugnacious courage What makes this horrific account so affecting is Humbert's sense of humour, her indomitable refusal to submit' Carmen Callil, Guardian 'An astonishing work, almost unbearable to read in places, yet ultimately inspiring A remarkable book by a remarkable and brave woman' Allan Massie, Literary Review 'Her book adds to the small record of how the human mind can preserve the heart and soul intact against all attempts to annihilate it' Linda Grant, Observer

Review

'Humbert's memoir bears witness to innumerable horrors, presented here with a pugnacious courage' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

97 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Elaine Simpson-long TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 Sept. 2008
Format: Hardcover
When the German army invaded Paris in 1940, Agnes Humbert a strong minded, politically aware art historian, immediately knew that she had to 'do something', the thought of accepting the invasion was anathema to her and she helped to form one of the first organised groups of the French Resistance. The speed with which this was set up and began to operate was staggering. She had excellent contacts and friends in literary and journalistic circles and an underground newspaper, combating the German propaganda machine, was printed and circulated around Paris. It was simply amazing that they managed to keep this going and out of the hands of the authorities for nearly a year before they were betrayed and she was arrested and thrown into prison. Seven of the men who founded the group died by firing squad and Agnes, while escaping the death penalty, was sentenced to five years in a German labour camp.

She had kept a diary up to her imprisonment and she completed it after liberation in 1945. Unable to keep a written record of her experiences she recreated them afterwards, relying on her memory alone. This gives this fascinating book a contrast in writing, the earlier diary memories dashed down quickly on a daily basis, breathless and eager to get everything on paper as it happened; the later reflections more considered even though she wrote at top speed in 1945 after the was liberated and before her memories faded. 'I remember everything as clearly as it it was written in notebooks' everything was recorded in memory and all she had to do was slowly turn the pages.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mr. J. G. R. Morrison on 30 Oct. 2008
Format: Hardcover
The diary: each day recorded is an at-this-moment experience for us, as it was for her. Her natural incredulity of events, the indignance, action when angered, practicality, strength of character, complete lack of sentiment, humour for the absurd even in the the most dire situations, even detached admiration for the "fairness" of the presiding Judge at the trial. With the flair for description that she had as an art historian, and her own remakable personality, she managed to record events daily until when she was forced to store in her head the events of the last few years. We are proud of you, Agnes!

There are over 20 good-quality black-and-white photographs of people and places. My favourite is the portrait of her at the seaside with her arm round her son Jean, the sun on her face and her hair in her eyes.

There are sincere Acknowledgements by the translator and editor; a Preface by William Boyd; an Afterword by Julien Blanc with a commentary on the documents, some family history, and what happened after the War; an Appendix of documents which includes the citation for the Croix de Guerre; a chapter of interesting and relevant Translator's Notes; and of course a bibliography and an index.

Congratulations to Barbara Mellor, Bloomsbury Publications, and her team of collaborators for this marvellously produced and presented book. I cannot praise this book enough.
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74 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Antonin Artaud on 10 Jan. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Firstly it should be noted that this book is not a memoir of the French Resistance or occupied France. It's called "Resistance," subtitled "Memoirs of Occupied France" and features on the cover a Parisian couple in the midst of the occupation. The entire summary on the inside flap, barring the last line, describes the German occupation in France, and the formation of the resistance movement from the Musee de l'Homme in Paris. It would be safe to assume looking at the book that this is a personal memoir of the French resistance in occupied France - it isn't.

Of the 370 pages in the book only the first 50 or so directly concern the Resistance in France and the activities of Humbert and her colleagues. It's a gripping start, and it's no surprise to learn that it is this portion of the book that is taken straight from diaries that Humbert kept at the time (the rest of the book is written from memory after the fact.) These short, matter of fact entries offer little new information about the workings of the resistance, but they do convey the sense of tension and foreboding that the residents of Paris experienced at the time, as well as the excitement of their clandestine activities. Humbert is soon caught and imprisoned however, and the focus of the book changes.

The bulk of the memoir is a description of Humbert's time in various (mostly German) prisons or working in slave labour in a Rayon factory in Germany. The book suffers as Humbert largely avoids any personal reflection or insights into her situation, instead choosing page after page of detailed description of her terrible treatment and the plight (or otherwise) of her fellow prisoners.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Koyuki on 3 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
This is an account of the author's experiences following France's ignominious defeat at the beginning of the second world war. She became involved in the newsletter "Resistance" (hence this book's title) leading to imprisonment and trial, three years sentenced to "work" in Germany and finally liberation and a period ferreting out former Nazis in the Hesse region at the end of the war. The narration, in part copied from her pre-capture diary and occasional notes secreted during captivity, and her memories all collated immediately after the war, is particularly vivid . It gives an insight into the people involved in the early subversion networks (indifference to the acknowledged risks and Gestapo interest, high espionage mixed with practical jokes such as typing liberation slogans on currency), the willingness to acknowledge humanity where it was shown by her captors, and the terror of the slave labour factories where sadism ruled over economic advantage. Although the initial focus is Paris, the major part of the account is of the time in Germany- not clear from the title.
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