By far the best book to come out of the collapse of France. -- The Guardian
Koestlers personal history of France at war is, I think, the finest book that has come out of that cauldron. -- The New York Herald Tribune
Some of the finest reportage of the century. -- Adam LeBor, The Literary Review
This is a book in a thousand. -- Byron Rogers, The Standard
About the Author
Koestler was a member of the German Communist party until 1938, but left during Stalins purges. He fought on the side of the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, was captured by Francos forces and sentenced to death, a sentence averted by the intervention of the British Foreign Office. He was interned in France at the start of the Second World War, but escaped to England where he worked for the BBC, becoming a British citizen in 1945.
Koestler had several books published in the thirties but made his international breakthrough with Darkness at Noon (1940) a novel set during Stalins reign of terror. He went on to produce many other works of fiction, autobiography, on Communism, science, philosophy, the drug culture and Eastern spiritualism. Arthur Koestler died in 1983, taking his own life in the face of terminal illness. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
I am afraid you have to come with us to the police station, said the less sturdy of the two. He had bristling hair, pimples on his face, and his name was, as I learned a few minutes later, M. Petetin, Fernand. Never mind, it is only for a verification of identity or something. May I dress in the bathroom? Certainly, said M. Petetin, settling down in an arm-chair and glancing at a bottle of corn brandy on the cupboard. I reckon that you have no firearms and no subversive literature in your flat, so we may as well save ourselves the trouble of a search. As you like, I said. Make yourselves at home. This is a corn brandy I always get at Mme. Denises shop on the rue de Vaugirard. It is cheap and guaranteed fifty degrees. But there are only a few bottles left.
I rarely drink so early in the morning, said Petetin while I filled his glass and his companions, and one for myself. A votre sante, monsieur.
While I finished dressing in the bathroom, G, living in the flat above mine, turned up in a dressing-gown, as if she had smelled the danger. Who is this? asked Petetin, becoming professional again. Miss G, a British subject. Her father is in the diplomatic service. How do you do? said Petetin in English, flushing with pride. My name is Monsieur Petetin, Fernand. I am sorry I have to take this gentleman away, but he will certainly be back again soon. You had better take a blanket, he added to me. The formalities may take a few days.