Les Parisiennes: How the Women of Paris Lived, Loved, and Died Under Nazi Occupation

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“Anne Sebba has the nearly miraculous gift of combining the vivid intimacy of the lives of women during The Occupation with the history of the time. This is a remarkable book.” —Edmund de Waal, New York Times bestselling author of The Hare with the Amber Eyes

New York Times bestselling author Anne Sebba explores a devastating period in Paris's history and tells the stories of how women survived—or didn’t—during the Nazi occupation.

Paris in the 1940s was a place of fear, power, aggression, courage, deprivation, and secrets. During the occupation, the swastika flew from the Eiffel Tower and danger lurked on every corner. While Parisian men were either fighting at the front or captured and forced to work in German factories, the women of Paris were left behind where they would come face to face with the German conquerors on a daily basis, as waitresses, shop assistants, or wives and mothers, increasingly desperate to find food to feed their families as hunger became part of everyday life.

When the Nazis and the puppet Vichy regime began rounding up Jews to ship east to concentration camps, the full horror of the war was brought home and the choice between collaboration and resistance became unavoidable. Sebba focuses on the role of women, many of whom faced life and death decisions every day. After the war ended, there would be a fierce settling of accounts between those who made peace with or, worse, helped the occupiers and those who fought the Nazis in any way they could.

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About the author

ANNE SEBBA is a biographer, lecturer, and former Reuters foreign correspondent who has written several books and is a member of the Society of Authors Executive Committee. She lives in London.
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Additional Information

Publisher
St. Martin's Press
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Published on
Oct 18, 2016
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Pages
368
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ISBN
9781466849563
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Historical
Biography & Autobiography / Women
History / Europe / France
History / Military / World War II
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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In 1943 Claire Chevrillon (code named Christiane Clouet) became head of the Code Service in Paris for General de Gaulle's Delegation and served as the main link in the lines of communication flowing between the Free French Government in London and the Delegation (Provisional Government) in France. It was Chevrillon and her team who coded many of the telegrams in Is Paris Burning? Until now, little has been published about this unglamorous but vital aspect of the French Resistance.

Chevrillon's memoir gives abundant detail about what daily life was like for the French elite during the German occupation. Her father, a scholar and literary critic who had been raised by his celebrated uncle, philosopher-historian Hippolyte Taine, put her in contact with the upper circles of French culture. Her mother, who was from a large, assimilated Jewish family, gave her first-hand knowledge of the persecution of French Jews. Her story vividly portrays the wartime experience of private lives and public events, including the tedious backroom work of the Resistance and four months she spent captive in Paris's dreaded Fresnes prison.

The way Chevrillon tells her story is almost as remarkable as the story itself. Evenhandedly and without embellishment, she relives the days of the occupation, the arrest and deportation of her prominent Jewish relatives, her own role in the underground network, and the eventual liberation of France. The straightforward, even brisk, style with which Chevrillon writes, together with the breadth of her experience and her extensive contacts in French society, give a perspective not often encountered in stories of the World War II underground.

Perhaps most important, Chevrillon demonstrates that heroism can take quiet, hidden forms.
Winner of the French-American Foundation Translation Prize for Nonfiction Jean Guéhenno's Diary of the Dark Years, 1940-1945 is the most oft-quoted piece of testimony on life in occupied France. A sharply observed record of day-to-day life under Nazi rule in Paris and a bitter commentary on literary life in those years, it has also been called "a remarkable essay on courage and cowardice" (Caroline Moorehead, Wall Street Journal). Here, David Ball provides not only the first English-translation of this important historical document, but also the first ever annotated, corrected edition. Guéhenno was a well-known political and cultural critic, left-wing but not communist, and uncompromisingly anti-fascist. Unlike most French writers during the Occupation, he refused to pen a word for a publishing industry under Nazi control. He expressed his intellectual, moral, and emotional resistance in this diary: his shame at the Vichy government's collaboration with Nazi Germany, his contempt for its falsely patriotic reactionary ideology, his outrage at its anti-Semitism and its vilification of the Republic it had abolished, his horror at its increasingly savage repression and his disgust with his fellow intellectuals who kept on blithely writing about art and culture as if the Occupation did not exist - not to mention those who praised their new masters in prose and poetry. Also a teacher of French literature, he constantly observed the young people he taught, sometimes saddened by their conformism but always passionately trying to inspire them with the values of the French cultural tradition he loved. Guéhenno's diary often includes his own reflections on the great texts he is teaching, instilling them with special meaning in the context of the Occupation. Complete with meticulous notes and a biographical index, Ball's edition of Guéhenno's epic diary offers readers a deeper understanding not only of the diarist's cultural allusions, but also of the dramatic, historic events through which he lived.
In this illuminating and deeply moving memoir, a former American military intelligence officer goes beyond traditional Cold War espionage tales to tell the true story of her family—of five women separated by the Iron Curtain for more than forty years, and their miraculous reunion after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Forty Autumns makes visceral the pain and longing of one family forced to live apart in a world divided by two. At twenty, Hanna escaped from East to West Germany. But the price of freedom—leaving behind her parents, eight siblings, and family home—was heartbreaking. Uprooted, Hanna eventually moved to America, where she settled down with her husband and had children of her own.

Growing up near Washington, D.C., Hanna’s daughter, Nina Willner became the first female Army Intelligence Officer to lead sensitive intelligence operations in East Berlin at the height of the Cold War. Though only a few miles separated American Nina and her German relatives—grandmother Oma, Aunt Heidi, and cousin, Cordula, a member of the East German Olympic training team—a bitter political war kept them apart.

In Forty Autumns, Nina recounts her family’s story—five ordinary lives buffeted by circumstances beyond their control. She takes us deep into the tumultuous and terrifying world of East Germany under Communist rule, revealing both the cruel reality her relatives endured and her own experiences as an intelligence officer, running secret operations behind the Berlin Wall that put her life at risk.

A personal look at a tenuous era that divided a city and a nation, and continues to haunt us, Forty Autumns is an intimate and beautifully written story of courage, resilience, and love—of five women whose spirits could not be broken, and who fought to preserve what matters most: family.

Forty Autumns is illustrated with dozens of black-and-white and color photographs.

Brigid Keenan was never destined to lead a normal life. From her early beginnings – a colourful childhood in India brought to an abrupt end by independence and partition, then a return to dreary post-war England and on to a finishing school in Paris with daughters of presidents and princes – ordinary didn't seem to be her fate. When, as a ten-year-old, she overheard her mother describe her as 'desperately plain', she decided then and there that she had to rely on something different: glamour, eccentricity, character, a career – anything, so as not to end up at the bottom of the pile. And in classic Brigid style, she somehow ended up with them all.

Fate often gave Brigid a helping hand – in the late fifties, in her teens, she landed a job as an assistant at the Daily Express in London, and by the tender age of twenty-one she was a Fashion Editor at the Sunday Times. It was the dawn of the swinging sixties, and London was the place to be. Brigid worked with David Bailey and Jean Shrimpton, had her hair cut by Vidal Sassoon, drove around London in a mini-van, covered the Paris Collections and was labelled a 'Young Meteor' by the press. Despite always trying her hardest, Brigid's enthusiasm - and occasional naivete - could lead to embarrassing moments, such as when she turned up to report on the Vietnam war in a mini skirt ...

Candid, wickedly funny and surprisingly touching, Full Marks for Trying is a coming-of-age memoir that will delight, entertain, and make you cry with laughter.
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK • NAACP IMAGE AWARD WINNER

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.
 
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