My favorite books about the German occupation of France, 1940−1944

Why am I passionate about this?

I received my B.S. in geology and spent my career in commercial banking. How did I go from banking to becoming an author? I learned to write as a banker back in the “good old” days when the loan officer had to write their own credit memorandum. I enjoyed it so much I told myself, “One day, I'm going to write a book.” Then I found a book called Walks Through Lost Paris by Leonard Pitt. As my wife and I walked through the streets of Paris, I said, “I can write a book like this.” And so I did. We're about to publish our sixth book in an anticipated series of nine.


I wrote...

Where Did They Put the Gestapo Headquarters?-The False War & Vichy: Volume One A Walking Tour of Nazi-Occupied Paris, 1940−1944

By Stew Ross,

Book cover of Where Did They Put the Gestapo Headquarters?-The False War & Vichy: Volume One A Walking Tour of Nazi-Occupied Paris, 1940−1944

What is my book about?

I bring occupied Paris to life without you having to obtain a ration card to survive.

Come walk in the footsteps of the men, women, and children who lived, worked, and played in Nazi-occupied Paris. Your walks will take you to buildings, places, and sites that were significant to the Nazis, French Resistance, Free French, the British, and most importantly, the citizens of Paris. You will follow individual stories of bravery, horror, and treason, and visit sites unknown to most tourists⏤Saint-Germain-en-Laye (Oberbefehlshaber West bunkers), former brothels, former headquarters of the Vichy paramilitary organization known as the Milice, and German soldier social clubs.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family's Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Paris

Stew Ross Why did I love this book?

Dr. Sumner Jackson and his family lived at 11, avenue Foch, sandwiched between Gestapo interrogation offices. It is an extraordinary story of resistance by the head of the American Hospital and his family. They are caught, interrogated, and ultimately deported to various concentration camps.

The author does an excellent job of outlining the Gestapo hierarchy in Paris and describing the Nazis’ brutal methods. The family was classified as prisoners under the “Nacht und Nebel” program (“Night and Fog”) and Mr. Kershaw introduces you to Hitler’s infamous directive. The book also weaves various resistance icons into the story. These include the SOE agents, Violette Szabó, Noor Inayat Khan, and Francis Suttill.

By Alex Kershaw,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Avenue of Spies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The best-selling author of The Liberator brings to life the incredible true story of an American doctor in Paris, and his heroic espionage efforts during World War II.

The leafy Avenue Foch, one of the most exclusive residential streets in Nazi-occupied France, was Paris's hotbed of daring spies, murderous secret police, amoral informers, and Vichy collaborators. So when American physician Sumner Jackson, who lived with his wife and young son Phillip at Number 11, found himself drawn into the Liberation network of the French resistance, he knew the stakes were impossibly high. Just down the road at Number 31 was…


Book cover of Colonel Henri's Story: The Memoirs of the German Secret Agent who arrested Odette and Peter Churchill

Stew Ross Why did I love this book?

I recommend this book to any “hard core” student of the German occupation of Paris. It is written by the Abwehr’s spy master assigned to track down and arrest foreign agents and French résistants operating in Paris. It was said that Bleicher could identify a foreign agent or résistant from a long distance. Bleicher was responsible for shutting down the Interallié network and SOE’s most productive circuit, Prosper.

While an interesting read, the reader must be cautioned. This is a memoir based on ten-year-old memories. Second, there is no independent research and much of this information remained classified until the 1990s. It might be best to have a good knowledge of the history of the occupation in Paris before reading Bleicher’s book.

Book cover of Double Agent Victoire: Mathilde Carré and the Interallié Network

Stew Ross Why did I love this book?

I recommend this book because it introduces the reader to one of the first organized resistance networks in Paris. As a double agent, Mathilde Carré (nom de guerre: Victoire) was also known as “The Cat.” She was ultimately responsible for the arrest of hundreds of Interallié agents (including her boss, Roman Czerniawski).

This book has it all. The author weaves the stories of collaborationists (e.g., Bonny-Lafont), SOE double agents (e.g., Henri Déricourt), and Abwehr spy catchers (e.g., Hugo Bleicher) around intricate counter-intelligence plots involving British and German spy agencies. You will meet Czerniawski again as he became a double agent after his arrest by the Germans and worked for the Allies in Operation Double Cross. It’s a great foundation to begin your study of the resistance movement in Paris.

By David Tremain,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Double Agent Victoire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mathilde Carre, notoriously known as La Chatte, was remarkable for all the wrong reasons. Like most spies she was temperamental, scheming and manipulative - but she was also treacherous. A dangerous mix, especially when combined with her infamous history of love affairs - on both sides. Her acts of treachery were almost unprecedented in the history of intelligence, yet her involvement in the 'Interallie affair' has only warranted a brief mention in the accounts of special operations in France during the Second World War. But what motivated her to betray more than 100 members of the Interallie network, the largest…


Book cover of The Gestapo: A History of Horror

Stew Ross Why did I love this book?

Studying the history of the German occupation of France must include a knowledge of Gestapo history and its crimes against humanity. This book is an introductory overview of the German security forces (RSHA) and in particular, Amt IV, or the Gestapo. The book focuses on the Gestapo forces in Paris and how they interacted with other security units including the Sicherheitdienst (SD), or Nazi political intelligence agency (Amt VI).

The author was imprisoned by the Nazis in 1944 after he was caught as a saboteur in the Combat resistance movement. During his post-war career, Delarue was called as a prosecution witness at Klaus Barbie’s trial, and he was assigned to investigate the French war criminal, Paul Touvier. I recommend this book to anyone who needs an overview of the Gestapo from Berlin to Paris.

By Jacques Delarue,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Gestapo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From 1933 to 1945, the Gestapo was Nazi Germany's chief instrument of counter-espionage, political suppression, and terror. Jacques Delarue, a saboteur arrested by the Nazis in occupied France, chronicles how the land of Beethoven elevated sadism to a fine art. The Gestapo: A History of Horror draws upon Delarue's interviews with ex-Gestapo agents to deliver a multi-layered history of the force whose work included killing student resisters, establishing Aryan eugenic unions, and implementing the Final Solution. This is a probing look at the Gestapo and the fanatics and megalomaniacs who made it such a successful and heinous organization-Barbie, Eichmann, Himmler,…


Book cover of Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies

Stew Ross Why did I love this book?

If you want to read about one of the most amazing operations of World War II, then this is the book for you. It is the story of the Allied double agents (five in particular) who successfully tricked Hitler into thinking the invasion of France would occur in a different location than planned. In my opinion, this book is enjoyable to read because of the five agents and their backgrounds, personalities, and how they went about tricking the Germans. One of the agents was used by Ian Fleming as a model for the James Bond character. Another agent was the only person in the war to have been awarded both the German Iron Cross and the British MBE. I have several favorite World War II genre authors and Ben Macintyre is one of them.   

By Ben Macintyre,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Double Cross as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

D-Day, 6 June 1944, the turning point of the Second World War, was a victory of arms. But it was also a triumph for a different kind of operation: one of deceit, aimed at convincing the Nazis that Calais and Norway, not Normandy, were the targets of the 150,000-strong invasion force.

The deception involved every branch of Allied wartime intelligence - the Bletchley Park code-breakers, MI5, MI6, SOE, Scientific Intelligence, the FBI and the French Resistance. But at its heart was the 'Double Cross System', a team of double agents controlled by the secret Twenty Committee, so named because twenty…


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Book cover of Adventures in the Radio Trade: A Memoir

Joe Mahoney Author Of Adventures in the Radio Trade: A Memoir

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Why am I passionate about this?

Author Broadcaster Family man Dog person Aspiring martial artist

Joe's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Adventures in the Radio Trade documents a life in radio, largely at Canada's public broadcaster. It's for people who love CBC Radio, those interested in the history of Canadian Broadcasting, and those who want to hear about close encounters with numerous luminaries such as Margaret Atwood, J. Michael Straczynski, Stuart McLean, Joni Mitchell, Peter Gzowski, and more. And it's for people who want to know how to make radio.

Crafted with gentle humour and thoughtfulness, this is more than just a glimpse into the internal workings of CBC Radio. It's also a prose ode to the people and shows that make CBC Radio great.

By Joe Mahoney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Adventures in the Radio Trade as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"In dozens of amiable, frequently humorous vignettes... Mahoney fondly recalls his career as a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio technician in this memoir... amusing and highly informative."
— Kirkus Reviews

"What a wonderful book! If you love CBC Radio, you'll love Adventures in the Radio Trade. Joe Mahoney's honest, wise, and funny stories from his three decades in broadcasting make for absolutely delightful reading!
— Robert J. Sawyer, author of The Oppenheimer Alternative''

"No other book makes me love the CBC more."
— Gary Dunford, Page Six
***
Adventures in the Radio Trade documents a life in radio, largely at Canada's…


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