This was the first book that Arthur Koestler wrote in English. It starts at the beginning of World War II when he was living in the South of France, working on "Darkness at Noon". After retreating to Paris, he was imprisoned as an undesirable alien. Even though he had been a crusader against fascism, he and many other anti-Nazis, were treated as enemies and their internment was brutal. The worst of his imprisonment was at Vernet, where prisoners had to sleep without blankets in 20 degrees of frost, and where he finally collapsed during a session of forced labour. Some of his fellow internees were eventually handed over to Nazi executioners. Koestler ponders on the collapse of pride and honour in France and he asks "Was the tragedy of France merely accidental, due to an unfortunate constellation? Or was it due to the still undiscovered, secret laws of the rise and decline of races and nations?"
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A powerful and moving story. -- Charles Osbourne, The Sunday Telegraph
By far the best book to come out of the collapse of France. -- The Guardian
Koestler’s 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
Arthur Koestler was born in Budapest in 1905, son of Henrik Koestler, industrialist and inventor. He was educated at the University of Vienna where he became involved in the Zionist movement, travelling to Palestine in 1926 where he worked as a farm labourer and as Jerusalem correspondent for a number of German newspapers.
Koestler was a member of the German Communist party until 1938, but left during Stalin’s purges. He fought on the side of the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, was captured by Franco’s 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 Stalin’s 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.
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Book Description Hutchinson, 1968. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Danube ed. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0090872800