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Wine and War: The French, the Nazis and France's Greatest Treasure [Paperback]

Donald & Petie Kladstrup
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

4 April 2002

In the vineyards, wine caves, and cellars of France as war and occupation came to the country winemakers acted heroically not only to save the best wines but to defend their way of life.

These are the true stories of vignerons who sheltered Jewish refugees in their cellars and of winemakers who risked their lives to aid the resistance. They made chemicals in secret laboratories to fuel the resistance and fled from the Gestapo when arrests became imminent.

There were treacheries too, as some of the nation's winemakers supported the Vichy regime or the Germans themselves and collaborated.

Donald Kladstrup is a retired American network correspondent. He and his wife Petie have accumulated these fascinating stories, told with the pace and action that will fascinate fiction and non-fiction readers alike.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks; New Ed edition (4 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340766786
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340766781
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 67,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

According to Don and Petie Kladstrup in Wine & War: the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure, it was a well-known fact that Adolf Hitler did not like wine. Still, their leader's teetotalism notwithstanding, the Germans showed no distaste for French wine when they invaded France in 1940. Indeed, one of the first acts of the occupying army was to seize great stores of wine, sending tens of thousands of barrels to the Third Reich and ordering the conversion of thousands of hectares of vineyards into war production. Some French vintners, the Kladstrups write in this enjoyable study, went along with orders. Many others, however, including the heads of distinguished houses like Moe¨t et Chandon, engaged in daring and dangerous acts of resistance wherever they could. Some lied about their yields; others built false walls to hide precious vintages; and still others concocted elaborate ruses, such as sprinkling carpet dust into inferior grades of new wine to give it a musty, distinguished flavour. Not every German was fooled, and some partisans of the grape died for their troubles. But some Germans, at considerable risk to themselves, also looked the other way. The Kladstrups fill their pages with memories of the wine war from both sides of the struggle, stories sometimes sombre, sometimes amusing, that commemorate those "whose love of the grape and devotion to a way of life helped them survive and triumph over one of the darkest and most difficult chapters in French history". --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


A sprightly and amusing book, full of spicy anecdotes (Evening Standard)

Entertaining and informative (Sunday Telegraph)

A vibrant panorama of the different wine-producing regions and how they responded to the challenge (Sunday Express)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Judged the book by the cover and loved it 2 Oct 2002
By A Customer
I really enjoyed this book - great day-in-the-life and historical perspectives of the French and France during wartime. Particularly amusing to read about French forces determining which soldiers should attack through excellent vineyards (themselves) and which would attack through lesser ones (everyone else)...
Highly enjoyable.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vive Les Vins Francais 8 May 2005
I enjoyed this book immensely. It was factual and informative and despite being set in depressing times, an underlying humour and deviance is never far from the surface. The book is perfect for amateur wine buffs (like me) and amateur historians (like me) who are interested in daily life during World War Two. The ingenuity of the French was amazing but, after all, they were protecting their greatest asset. By the end of this book Vichy france does not come out too well but at least france lived to fight another day with her vineyards pretty much intact. Vive La France.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bottled 3 Dec 2010
This is a pretty good account of what happened in and around the French wine industry in the early to mid 1940's. The book makes an attempt to show not only the thuggish behaviour of some German soldiers in the early days of invasion, but also the better and in fact usually very polite of the same forces thereafter.

The collapse of the French forces in 1940 and the subsequent squirming of the vineyard owners to fit in somewhere between outright collaboration and outright support for the foreign agents and other riff-raff of the Resistance and Maquis is fairly well told.

I was interested to see that the French called the Germans who came to buy (not seize) wine by a pidgin phrase "les weinfuhrers"! One of the main "weinfuhrers" was a man whose family had owned a Bordeaux vineyard before WW1 and whose family had had that vineyard confiscated during that war. After the Second World War, the German returned and eventually bought another vineyard. Life goes on. Europe goes on.

A very good read on the whole.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A fascinating angle on WWII. Perhaps it is not surprising that wine became a battlefield over which the French chose to ressist the Nazi ocupation. Short, enjoyable and easy read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
This is an amusing, but poignant account of how the French wine industry coped with the Nazi occupation (the telegrams from the French station master to his German superior had me laughing out loud!). Despite the humour it stills manages to convey the fear and hardships which were imposed on the people of France. It reads almost like a novel but each chapter is based upon interviews with the people involved. If you want an 'academic' study this is not for you, but for people who enjoy their history in a more 'relaxed' style I highly recommend this.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An entertaining account of the effect of the 1940 German invasion of France on the French wine industry. In the first half of the book there is a comical situation on almost every page.The book is well written and holds the reader's attention.

However, I did find the absence of any mention of Britain's part in the war and de Gaulle's career a little hard to take.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Thomas
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a well researched and fantastic book, if you really want to understand why French wine is so important to their cuture then look no further.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Lili
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is unbelievable how, during the second World War, brave French men and women showed enormous courage in their battle to save the wine from the Germans.
I really enjoyed reading this, well researched book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great read -
Published 1 month ago by DAVID WALKER
4.0 out of 5 stars Book bouught as a gift
Nicish book but not really bought for my pleasure. It was well received by the lady for whom I bought it.
Published 4 months ago by ROGER L SAUNDERS
4.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected & very original view of W W 2
This is a well written & unexpected history of WW2. Many viewers of the film "the monuments men" will find it a very welcome extension of the account extension of the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mrs P A Williamson
5.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting read
Anyone with an interest in wine and French history will enjoy this book. Not a masterpiece of writing but nevertheless a page turner.
Published 9 months ago by John Battye
5.0 out of 5 stars fab!
A great read that brings together wartime history and the world of wine. Especially wonderful to learn of the great man Gaston Huet
Published 10 months ago by jimmy
3.0 out of 5 stars Obviously written by an American.
Biased towards America one would never have thought the other nations were involved in the war according to this book.
Published 13 months ago by Lynne Stoneman
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting book
An insight into what exactly it was like living in Vichy France during world war two.Also how the French actually thought that they had made peace with the Germans and were not an... Read more
Published 14 months ago by M. B. Gluck
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Excellent, informative and well written. It is an Interesting topic which i knew little about and I would highly recommend this book.
Published 15 months ago by Wendy Woodhead
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Some nice stories and follows the characters through the war quite nicely. An enjoyable read and i would recommend it too.
Published 15 months ago by Mr. R. J. Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars modern history made easy reading
I did enjoy this book. I borrowed a copy whilst in USA and found it good enough to buy this copy as a birthday present on my return to the UK....
Published 16 months ago by jim sixsmith
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