Saturday, August 27, 2016

AVENUE OF SPIES by Alex Kershaw

This is a very good book about the Nazi occupation of Paris in the second world war from the perspective of an American husband/Swiss wife couple that lived on one of the swankiest streets of the city. I had no idea how Paris had been taken by the Germans without firing a shot, and the enormity of the gradual but constantly building of the SS and Gestapo's efforts to track down resistance.

The Jackson family in the book is headed by Sumner, a native of Maine, who worked at the American Hospital. While the Gestapo confiscated houses all along his street, not only did Jackson continue his work at the hospital but he helped hide food for his patients as well as aid downed Allied fighters on their way out of France and back to Britain.

Toward the end of the war, a French collaborator turned them in and the family was arrested after the Allies had landed at Normandy. Toquette Jackson, Sumner's wife and Phillip's mother, was separated from the men, who miraculously were able to stay together until the end of the war. The odds were stacked against all of them, and still two out of the three survived the war.

The book tells the story of the Paris occupation and the Vichy government with the center around this one family, and by doing so gives a microcosm of life in the City of Lights, including how Hitler's offices disobeyed his direct order to leave it in rubble before the Allies arrived. Recommended.

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