Americans in Paris: Life and Death under Nazi Occupation 1940-44

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9780007228539: Americans in Paris: Life and Death under Nazi Occupation 1940-44

An elegantly written and highly informative account of a group of Americans living in Paris when the city fell to the Nazis in June 1940.

When the German army occupied Paris in the early hours of 14 June 1940, a large American community awaited them. Although the US Ambassador had advised those without vital business to leave when war broke out in 1939, almost five thousand remained. Many had professional and family ties to Paris, and most had a peculiarly American love for the city that was rooted in the bravery of the thousands of Frenchmen who volunteered to help win American independence after 1776. As citizens of a neutral nation, they believed they had little to fear. They were wrong. For four hard years, from the summer of 1940 until US troops occupied Paris in August 1944, Americans were intimately caught up in the city's fate.

Those who stayed behind were an eccentric, original and disparate group. Charles Bedaux, a Frenchborn, naturalized American millionaire, had played host to the Duke of Windsor's wedding in 1937 and went on throwing lavish parties for European royalty and high-ranking Nazi officials. Countess Clara Longworth de Chambrun, who accepted the legitimacy of the Vichy regime, dealt with anyone, including the Nazis, to keep her beloved American Library of Paris open. Sylvia Beach attempted to run her famous English-language bookshop, Shakespeare & Company, whilst providing help to her Jewish friends and her colleagues in the Resistance. Dr Sumner Jackson, wartime chief surgeon of the American Hospital in Paris, risked his life aiding Allied soldiers to escape to Britain and resisting the occupier from the first day.

Charles Glass has written an exciting, fast-paced and elegant account of the moral contradictions faced by Americans in Paris during France's most dangerous years. His discovery of letters, diaries, war documents and police files reveals as never before how American expatriates were trapped in a web of intrigue, collaboration and courage. This is an unforgettable tale of treachery by some, cowardice by others and unparalleled bravery by a few.

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Review:

'Charles Glass's fascinating and absorbing account of American civilians trapped in Paris under the Nazi occupation … he makes us think again about the nature of life in occupied Paris and refreshes what many would consider something of a tired and overworked period of contemporary history … Glass writes with great fluency and verve and evident scholarship and has unearthed facts and figures that both illuminate and perturb.' William Boyd, Sunday Times

'Charles Glass's highly impressive new book tells us of an assortment of US citizens who remained in Paris during the war. Charles Glass describes the various realities with just the right combination of objectivity and compassion; this is a moving and deeply thought-provoking book.' Noel Malcolm, Sunday Telegraph

'Wartime France comes alive in Charles Glass's new book … a fine piece of historical research, and powerful insight into one of the darkest periods of modern European history.' Janine di Giovanni, Evening Standard

Book of the Week – 5 stars; 'most of the detail is fascinating and Glass does possess a journalist's ability to tamp an enormous amount of info into a very small space.' Nina Caplan, Time Out

'Provides valuable insight into a little-known theatre of that great tragi-comic mess which we call the second world war.' Adam Zamoyski, Spectator

'An account of the 2,000 Americans who remained in Paris during the Second World War is rich in intrigue and heroism … for anyone interested in France during this period it is a fascinating treat.' Antony Beevor, Daily Telegraph

"elegant and well-researched" Books of the Year, Independent on Sunday

Listed twice as part of Books of the Year

Review:

'Charles Glass's fascinating and absorbing account of American civilians trapped in Paris under the Nazi occupation ... he makes us think again about the nature of life in occupied Paris and refreshes what many would consider something of a tired and overworked period of contemporary history ... Glass writes with great fluency and verve and evident scholarship and has unearthed facts and figures that both illuminate and perturb.'

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Glass, Charles
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