Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Tale of Spies and Heroic Resistance to the Nazi Occupation of Paris

Sumner Jackson, a renowned surgeon, head of the American Hospital in Paris, hates what the Nazis are doing to his beloved Paris. An American, he grew to love Paris after marrying his Swiss wife, Toquette. They and their only child, Phillip want to do everything they can to aid the Allies.

Sumner uses his position in the hospital to smuggle British and French fighters to Spain and then to Britain. Toquette becomes involved in the French Resistance. Living on the Avenue Foch where the other houses had been commandeered by the Gestapo, makes becoming involved in the Resistance an extremely dangerous activity, and the Jacksons and their son paid the price.

Seen through the eyes of the Jacksons from their vantage point on the Avenue Foch, this book shows the horror of the Nazi occupation of Paris in vivid colors. Many of the beautiful mansions that had been commandeered by the Gestapo were used as torture chambers to encourage people to turn in their neighbors and locate any Jews in hiding.

The story is particularly poignant by, in addition to telling the story of the Jacksons, following the career of Gestapo agent Knochen, Dr. Bones. Knochen is a charming, learned individual who loves Paris, but he wants the power to form it in his image. The contrast between the Jackson family and Knochen is startling.

If you're interested in WWII and the Nazi occupation of Paris, this is one of the best books I've read. The author uses this true story to present the horror of living in a city controlled by psychopaths who delight in torture and murder. It's not an easy book to read, but I highly recommend it.

I reviewed this book for Blogging for Books.