The Resistance: The French Fight Against the Nazis by Matthew Cobb

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The Resistance: The French Fight Against the Nazis by Matthew Cobb

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Buy The Resistance: The French Fight Against the Nazis by Matthew Cobb at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: History
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Dawn Powell
Reviewed by Dawn Powell
Summary: An in-depth account of the men and women of the French resistance that separates myth from reality.
Buy? Yes Borrow? No
Pages: 416 Date: June 2009
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 978-1847371232

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Allo, Allo, The Secret Army and numerous films have painted a fairly romantic picture of the resistance — beret-wearing men and women who dart about blowing up trains and shooting Nazis. The reality, according to Matthew Cobb's The Resistance, was somewhat different.

Although trains were blown up, members of the resistance spent most of their time holding demonstrations against the occupation or producing underground newspapers. Furthermore, the resistance was not a single political body but a disparate bunch of groups who held very different political beliefs (ranging from communist to being so right wing that they were almost fascist) and who argued extensively with each other about how they should resist the Germans. In fact, they weren't officially unified (with the creation of Conseil National de La Resistance) until May 1943.

Cobb's determination to de-myth the resistance is very impressive. Just looking at the lengthy bibliography, let alone reading the book, indicates how much research he has done. But it's his in-depth personal accounts of the members of the resistance that really shows how much work he has put into this book. By detailing their thoughts and fears as well as their actions, he provides a good insight into their lives — particularly, as he does not hold back from highlighting their flaws. For example, Cobb partly attributes the capture and murder of the leader of the Conseil National de La Resistance (Jean Moulin) by the Nazis to the fact Moulin and other leaders of the resistance were careless about their safety.

But, Cobb has almost put too much detail into this book. He talks about so many different people in the resistance that I struggled to keep up with who was who. I think if he had included a list of characters (for want of a better term) in his extensive notes section that I could refer to, I would have found the book much easier to read. In fact, I found it odd that he didn't include such a list because he does include a glossary and a brief biography of 'what happened next' to the members who survived the war.

Ultimately, The Resistance is a worthwhile read but it is a heavyweight historical tome that requires dedication from the reader — it's not a book that you can dip in and out of. Therefore, I recommend buying it rather than borrowing it to give yourself enough time to read it.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals then we can also recommend Sealing Their Fate: 22 Days That Decided the Second World War by David Downing.

Buy The Resistance: The French Fight Against the Nazis by Matthew Cobb at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Resistance: The French Fight Against the Nazis by Matthew Cobb at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Resistance: The French Fight Against the Nazis by Matthew Cobb at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Resistance: The French Fight Against the Nazis by Matthew Cobb at Amazon.com.

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