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The Resistance: The French Fight Against the Nazis [Paperback]

Matthew Cobb
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

27 May 2010
The French resistance to Nazi occupation during World War II was a struggle in which ordinary people fought for their liberty, despite terrible odds and horrifying repression. Hundreds of thousands of Frenchmen and women carried out an armed struggle against the Nazis, producing underground anti-fascist publications and supplying the Allies with vital intelligence. The Resistance touches on some of the strongest themes in life - courage, self-sacrifice, betrayal and struggle. It shatters the illusion of a unified Resistance created by General de Gaulle, and brings to vivid life a true story of heroes and conflicts forgotten over the next half-century as the movement became a myth. Based on hundreds of French eye-witness accounts and including recently-released archival material, The Resistance uses dramatic personal stories to take the reader on one of the great adventures of the 20th century.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (27 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847391567
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847391568
  • Product Dimensions: 19.9 x 13 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 105,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"Cobb comes perhaps closer than any other historian to explaining why the Resistance matters."" --Spectator"


'Makes the excitement and danger of the period palpable and allows a greater understanding of what it must have been like' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Cobb conveys vividly and with insight the tensions, internal conflicts, political problems, and (often lethal) dangers associated with resistance activities in wartime France. Even those who have previously studied this important period in modern French history will benefit from reading this book - and for those with little knowledge of the subject it will provide a comprehensive and easily understood overview of complex events, set within a wider political and military framework.
The author's enthusiasm for his subject is reflected in the style of writing, which makes for easy reading.
The book deserves to be widely read. It contains an extensive bibliography, which will be valuable to both serious scholars and general readers.
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62 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deserving a wide audience 18 Jun 2009
With all of the justified interest attached to Word War Two it is surprising how few books are devoted to this important topic. At least in English. So the few that are available have to be good and they have to be comprehensive. I have given five stars to Cobb's book for three reasons.
First it is wide ranging but also manages to be detailed and well balanced. Second it is a really good read and draws its strength from ample inclusion of memoirs and reflections of participants. Finally, as with all good books, it is a labour of love.
This is an excellent introduction for those new to the subject. But there is much that will interest readers who have a fuller knowledge of the subject matter. For example it throws new light on the relationship of the Resistance to the Allies on and around D-Day.
I would congratulate the writer on his ability to describe the many faces of the resistance and its internal dynamics - no easy task as so much of it remains covered in secrecy, even today. All serious accounts of the war on the Eastern front now require consideration of the activities of partisans. Cobb has ensured that the same honour must now be afforded to the Resistance in any account of the war in the West.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Educational, thrilling and moving 22 Aug 2010
As with the other reviews here, I agree that this is a well written, easy to understand overview of the French Resistance.

I've studied the basics of WWII in school and read a few books on the war, but this is the first time that I've ever read anything about the Resistance itself. I had no idea just how diverse the movement was - that in fact, it was not a homogenous movement at all.

Prof. Cobb describes the courage of individuals; the attempts to organise; the politics and differences not just amongst the groups in occupied and Vichy France, but with De Gaulle and the Allies as well. There are here true tales of bravery, of heroism, of treason and deceit,of cynical manipulation, and of barbarity and savagery. This book reads like a suspense thriller - once you start, it's hard to put down.

Highly recommended for anyone interested in WWII history, or the study of resistance movements.

As an accompanying entertainment, I recommend the 1969 classic Jean-Pierre Melville film Army of Shadows (L'armée des ombres). This is not a true story, but does encorporate and is enspired by some actual events. Melville himself was apparently in the resistance.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Rob Kitchin TOP 1000 REVIEWER
In Resistance, Matthew Cobb provides a broad social and political history of the French resistance movement in France during the Second World War, drawing on extensive archival and interview research. What his analysis demonstrates is that the Resistance was, in fact, many resistances, made up of hundreds of groups and cells working in broad alliances, cross-cut with deep political schisms, clashes of personalities, differences in opinion, tactics and strategies, and answering to different masters. A real strength of the book is that Cobb manages to, on the one hand, contextualise resistance within wider European and global politics and the war, and within what was happening in France with respect to the Vichy regime and the apparatus of Nazi oppression, and on the other, to provide in-depth discussion of particular individuals and groups, and their motivations, aspirations, actions and fate. As such, he provides by both breadth and depth, dispassionate contextualisation and poignant intimacy. It's a powerful combination that leads to a huge amount of information being crammed into a relatively short book without it ever feeling rushed or truncated. In addition, rather than simply describing events as with many historical texts, Cobb provides an explanatory framework, seeking to interpret why certain decisions were undertaken, and he does so from a relatively neutral position, detailing how others have interpreted the same events and why his view concurs or differs. In my view, it's an excellent piece of work, covering a huge amount of ground in a lively, engaging and informative voice. If you want a rounded, synoptic introduction to the various Resistance movements in France, this is a great place to start.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Memory against forgetting 18 May 2010
In June 1944 in the French industrial town of Tulle the Germans declared they were going to execute 120 people in a reprisal for a defeat by the resistance. They began hanging them from the balconies and lamp posts of their own town. Having murdered 99 innocent men aged between 17 and 42 they stopped, possibly because they simply ran out of rope.

This sort of chilling anecdote regularly illuminates this fine narrative history of the French Resistance. The book strives to outline the breadth and depth of the French resistance, in the process remembering key figures such as Moulin in their full human complexity and capturing the excitment, horror, heroism and tragedy of this aspect of the struggle against the Nazis.

A central theme of the books is how the heroism of the Resistants was taken advantage of by De Gaulle, who derived the political benefits of the struggle while barely acknowleging the sacrifice of the resistants. Nevertheless, while always clear in his sympathies to the Resistants of both left and right, the author does not shirk from addressing some of the atrocities and excesses of those same people.

The climax of the book is, perhaps inevitably, the liberation of Paris, in many ways an aberation in the Second World War. Elsewhere, including parts of France, there was an almost total failure of the Allies to support the national insurrections against the Nazis, with terrible consequences from Prague to Warsaw.

Overall an excellent introduction to this period of history in all its bloodshed and confusion.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Resistance
This is a first rate read. Like many complacent British people, my belief was that the French Resistance was a case of too little too late and that many French people were... Read more
Published 2 months ago by M. McClure
5.0 out of 5 stars A very gripping read
The book gives a good overall view of the French resistance movement in world war two and includes gripping individual stories.
Published 3 months ago by Mr john cooke
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding work
Over the years there have been very few works of factual literature that have captured my imagination and intelect in the way this book has. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Paul Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Review
Shame there are no pictures on the e version. Nevertheless a good read that filled in many gaps in my knowledge.
Published 5 months ago by er
5.0 out of 5 stars Careful look at a subject shrouded in myth
The French Resistance was a complex mixture of politics, espionage and subversion. It was treated with considerable caution by both the Free French and by the British and... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mr. Andrew H. Fell-gordon
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story and valuable resource
I found this to be a very honest book, it neither idolised nor demonised as it told the story in a gripping and readable manner. Read more
Published 6 months ago by jim obrien
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading
A definite history of the resistance - interesting and enlightening, but tedious and repetitive in parts. Read more
Published 6 months ago by michael chasteauneuf
5.0 out of 5 stars A well wrritten acount with lots of detail which was all new to me.
Published 7 months ago by Brian Reade
2.0 out of 5 stars Can't see the big picture
This book is more of a list of incidents, it didn't to me give a clear picture of the Resistance story as a whole. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Peter S
4.0 out of 5 stars The Resistance and the Personalities
A well researched book describing the history of the French resistance from the fall of France to the Allied invasion including the various people who played a leading role both... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
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