100 books like France Under the Germans

By Philippe Burrin, Janet Lloyd (translator),

Here are 100 books that France Under the Germans fans have personally recommended if you like France Under the Germans. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Strange Defeat

By Marc Bloch,

Book cover of Strange Defeat

Bertram M. Gordon Author Of Historical Dictionary of World War II France: The Occupation, Vichy, and the Resistance, 1938-1946

From the list on France in World War II.

Who am I?

As a child in New York, I was interested in history to the point where by third grade I had memorized the list of U.S. presidents beginning with George Washington. The world was more Eurocentric than now, and I was taken by what I saw as the richness of European history. Surrounded later by Leftist academics, I became interested in the Right. Why were so many, especially among the lower middle classes, drawn to the Right and fascism during the first half of the twentieth century? This led to my interviewing and studying World War II pro-Nazi French collaborators. Later I branched into food history and the history of tourism.

Bertram's book list on France in World War II

Why did Bertram love this book?

Marc Bloch was a prominent French historian, who specialized in Medieval social history during the years between the two world wars of the twentieth century. He was a major figure in the formation of the “Annales School” which focused on the study of history with an emphasis on long-term developments in social history. Of Alsatian-Jewish background, he wrote the book Strange Defeat during the summer of 1940, following the rapid defeat and conquest of France by Nazi Germany. Bloch’s book was published in France after the war, in 1946, but he did not live to see it. He was able to maintain a professorial position at the University of Montpelier in southern France but, after joining the Resistance, was captured, tortured, and executed in 1944. In Strange Defeat, Bloch examined the long-term causes of the 1940 defeat, focusing on the failure of the French military leadership to adjust to…

By Marc Bloch,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Strange Defeat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A renowned historian and Resistance fighter - later executed by the Nazis - analyzes at first hand why France fell in 1940. Marc Bloch wrote Strange Defeat during the three months following the fall of France, after he returned home from military service. In the midst of his anguish, he nevertheless "brought to his study of the crisis all the critical faculty and all the penetrating analysis of a first-rate historian" (Christian Science Monitor). Bloch takes a close look at the military failures he witnessed, examining why France was unable to respond to attack quickly and effectively. He gives a…


The Vichy Syndrome

By Henry Rousso, Arthur Goldhammer (translator),

Book cover of The Vichy Syndrome: History and Memory in France Since 1944

Bertram M. Gordon Author Of Historical Dictionary of World War II France: The Occupation, Vichy, and the Resistance, 1938-1946

From the list on France in World War II.

Who am I?

As a child in New York, I was interested in history to the point where by third grade I had memorized the list of U.S. presidents beginning with George Washington. The world was more Eurocentric than now, and I was taken by what I saw as the richness of European history. Surrounded later by Leftist academics, I became interested in the Right. Why were so many, especially among the lower middle classes, drawn to the Right and fascism during the first half of the twentieth century? This led to my interviewing and studying World War II pro-Nazi French collaborators. Later I branched into food history and the history of tourism.

Bertram's book list on France in World War II

Why did Bertram love this book?

The role of France and the activities of the French during the Second World War German occupation, spanning the range from resistance through accommodation to collaboration, has been the subject of considerable literature on both sides of the Atlantic. First published in France in 1987, The Vichy Syndrome characterizes the memory of the war years as “a past that doesn't pass away.” The book addresses the different ways in which the war years were remembered and helped popularize the study of historical memory, meaning the study not only of the events themselves but also how they are remembered and how these memories influence political and cultural life in succeeding generations. Rousso received France’s National Order of Merit in 1995 and in 2018 was chosen by President Macron to supervise the design of France’s new Memorial Museum of Societies Facing Terrorism.  

By Henry Rousso, Arthur Goldhammer (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Vichy Syndrome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the Liberation purges to the Barbie trial, France has struggled with the memory of the Vichy experience: a memory of defeat, occupation, and repression. In this provocative study, Henry Rousso examines how this proud nation-a nation where reality and myth commingle to confound understanding-has dealt with les annees noires. Specifically, he studies what the French have chosen to remember-and to conceal.


Vichy France

By Robert O. Paxton,

Book cover of Vichy France

Bertram M. Gordon Author Of Historical Dictionary of World War II France: The Occupation, Vichy, and the Resistance, 1938-1946

From the list on France in World War II.

Who am I?

As a child in New York, I was interested in history to the point where by third grade I had memorized the list of U.S. presidents beginning with George Washington. The world was more Eurocentric than now, and I was taken by what I saw as the richness of European history. Surrounded later by Leftist academics, I became interested in the Right. Why were so many, especially among the lower middle classes, drawn to the Right and fascism during the first half of the twentieth century? This led to my interviewing and studying World War II pro-Nazi French collaborators. Later I branched into food history and the history of tourism.

Bertram's book list on France in World War II

Why did Bertram love this book?

First published in 1972, this book significantly altered the views of French collaboration with the Nazi German occupiers during the Second World War. During the immediate postwar years, many in France maintained that the Vichy government of Marshal Philippe Pétain and its supporters had done everything possible to resist and subvert the German occupiers and that the Resistance and the Pétain government had been part of the same struggle, the “sword and shield” of France against the German occupiers. Writing at a time when most relevant French archives were closed to historians and using German archival material that was captured during the war, Paxton showed that contrary to the Vichy government’s being a shield, it had in fact more actively supported the Germans while establishing an authoritarian government aligned in many ways with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. This book altered French views of the war to the point where…

By Robert O. Paxton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Robert O. Paxton's classic study of the aftermath of France's sudden collapse under Nazi invasion utilizes captured German archives and other contemporary materials to construct a strong and disturbing account of the Vichy period in France. With a new introduction and updated bibliography, Vichy France demonstrates that the collaborationist government of Marshal Petain did far more than merely react to German pressures. The Vichy leaders actively pursued their own double agenda-internally, the authoritarian and racist "national revolution," and, externally, an attempt to persuade Hitler to accept this new France as a partner in his new Europe.


France

By Julian Jackson,

Book cover of France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944

Yehuda Moraly Author Of Revolution in Paradise: Veiled Representations of Jewish Characters in the Cinema of Occupied France

From the list on French theater and film during German occupation.

Who am I?

I am teaching Theater studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Among my courses, “The World of Theater in the Reflection of Cinema" was a notable one. My favorite film was Children of Paradise. However, I was taken aback when a friend questioned the film's alleged anti-Semitic elements. I scrutinized the character of the Old-Clothes Man, Josué, noticing his stereotypical Jewish traits. As my research went further, I discovered the original 1942 script, where Josué played a more significant role as an overt Jewish traitor, ultimately slain by the film's hero, Deburau. This revelation prompted extensive research in Paris and Jerusalem, uncovering veiled Jewish portrayals in other French films made during the German occupation.

Yehuda's book list on French theater and film during German occupation

Why did Yehuda love this book?

I like very much the monumental book of Julian Jackson on Vichy and the French Occupation.

Despite its length, Jackson’s book remains engaging throughout. The book delves first into the formative years of Vichy. It sheds light on the political tensions that preceded this period. It elucidates how individuals from various political backgrounds were drawn to this attractive vision of societal rejuvenation. It emphasizes the unclear limits between right and wrong during this challenging era.

The book is very important both for students and researchers.

By Julian Jackson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked France as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The French call them 'the Dark Years'...

This definitive new history of Occupied France explores the myths and realities of four of the most divisive years in French history.

Taking in ordinary people's experiences of defeat, collaboration, resistance, and liberation, it uncovers the conflicting memories of occupation which ensure that even today France continues to debate the legacy of the Vichy years.


Verdict On Vichy

By Michael Curtis,

Book cover of Verdict On Vichy: Power and Prejudice in the Vichy France Regime

Boaz Dvir Author Of Saving Israel: The Unknown Story of Smuggling Weapons and Winning a Nation’s Independence

From the list on 21st century nonfiction about the Holocaust.

Who am I?

I started conducting primary research about the Holocaust in the 1990s, when I spent a week interviewing my grandfather, a Holocaust survivor and a pious Hasid, about his life. Fascinated with the survival of his faith, I applied for and received a grant from the Religion News Service to explore spiritual aspects of the Holocaust. I also sought to answer my saba’s question: How did Israelis end up fighting their 1948 War of Independence with Nazi weapons such as the Mauser he had received? I answered it in the 2015 PBS documentary I directed and produced, A Wing and a Prayer, and the 2020 nonfiction book I wrote, Saving Israel.

Boaz's book list on 21st century nonfiction about the Holocaust

Why did Boaz love this book?

Making Cojot, a documentary about a Parisian business consultant who hunted down former Gestapo commander Klaus Barbie, prompted me to closely examine Vichy. This French national administration went out of its way to appease its Nazi occupiers during World War II. But the more answers I dug up, the more questions I had. Verdict on Vichy filled in many of the gaps. For instance, it provided a possible explanation as to why the judges presiding over Barbie’s 1987 trial in Lyon granted his request to sit out the proceedings, thus depriving his victims’ families the opportunity to look him in the eyes as they recounted some of his crimes against humanity. The judges might have pounced at the chance to hide Barbie, who was reportedly ready to spill the beans about French leaders such as then-President François Mitterrand who collaborated with the Nazis. Michael Curtis went to great lengths…

By Michael Curtis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Verdict On Vichy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This masterful book is the first comprehensive reappraisal of the Vichy France regime for over 20 years. France was occupied by Nazi Germany between 1940 and 1944, and the exact nature of France's role in the Vichy years is only now beginning to come to light. One of the main reasons that the Vichy history is difficult to tell is that some of France's most prominent politicians, including President Mitterand, have been implicated in the regime. This has meant that public access to key documents has been denied and it is only now that an objective analysis is possible. The…


Book cover of All the Light We Cannot See

Kathy Borrus Author Of Five Hundred Buildings of Paris

From the list on capturing the magic and history of Paris.

Who am I?

I lived in Paris for six months when I researched and wrote my first Paris book, One Thousand Buildings of Paris, walking every quarter of Paris including some rather dicey areas. I discovered most Parisians don’t wander very far from their own neighborhoods, and casual tourists tend to stay in the center. The first time my boyfriend and I went to Paris together, I planned daily excursions to all the neighborhoods where he had never been. We became flaneurs (wanderers) at outdoor markets, small museums, parks, and we ventured into unknown spaces. There is always something fascinating to discover in Paris and new ways to gain a sense of history. 

Kathy's book list on capturing the magic and history of Paris

Why did Kathy love this book?

I was mesmerized by Doerr’s exquisite, lyrical writing and his interweaving of WWII stories and characters.

Though a lengthy book nearly 600 pages, it reads like a page turner. On the surface it is a beautiful story about a friendship between a blind but highly perceptive French girl, Marie-Laure, and an orphaned German boy with a genius knack for building shortwave radios. Having gone blind at six, Marie-Laure negotiates her neighborhood thanks to a model built by her father.

When the Germans occupy Paris, Marie-Laure and her father take refuge at an uncle’s house at Saint-Malo. Although it is fiction, it captures the sense of Paris and France before and during occupation. It is also a tale of infinite love between father and child. 

By Anthony Doerr,

Why should I read it?

28 authors picked All the Light We Cannot See as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE 2015 PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
WINNER OF THE CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR FICTION

A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II

Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.'

For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her the way home. The microscopic…


Das Reich

By Max Hastings,

Book cover of Das Reich: The March of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Through France, June 1944

Jonathan Spyer Author Of The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict

From the list on the human impact of war.

Who am I?

I'm a writer and journalist. I grew up in London’s Jewish community, and lived in Israel and Jerusalem for most of my life. I'm fascinated by the Mid-East region, its history, religions, music, cultures, and colors, and by Jewish history. As a result of my experiences as a soldier in the Second Lebanon War of 2006, and the Second Intifada of 2000-4, my focus on conflict became central to my work. After the 2006 war, I became a conflict reporter, and I've covered war and insurgency in Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Ukraine, Lebanon, and Israel/West Bank/Gaza for a variety of publications. I also like to focus on the ways war and conflict impact human lives.   

Jonathan's book list on the human impact of war

Why did Jonathan love this book?

Max Hastings here describes the fight between the 10th SS Panzer Division and the French resistance forces, assisted by the British Special Operations Executive, in France in the period following D-Day, 1944. Hastings is in my view a peerless writer on conflict and military history, with a deep understanding of the costs of conflict on individuals, and considerable empathy for those caught up in it. I like that this empathy does not result in excessive romanticization of those engaged here in the irregular warfare against the Nazi German forces. Despite the unambiguous and obvious rights and wrongs of the conflict here described, the author never loses sight of the complexity of human motivations among the combatants, and indeed of the tactical errors and sometimes costly foolishness on the allied side as well as the German.  

By Max Hastings,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Within days of the D-Day landings, the 'Das Reich' 2nd SS Panzer Division pushed north through France to reinforce Hitler's front-line defences in Europe. This is an account of these veterans who had participated in some of the bloodiest fighting of the Russian front, and how they were hounded on their march by the Resistance and the Allied Special


The Fall of France

By Julian Jackson,

Book cover of The Fall of France: The Nazi Invasion of 1940

Austin Denis Johnston Author Of 33 Days: A Memoir

From the list on the refugee crisis in Western Europe in WW2.

Who am I?

Twenty years ago I nearly married a French woman and emigrated. I prepared vigorously to become an honorary Frenchman, cramming French history, language, and culture. Ultimately, I neither married nor emigrated, but the passion for that cultural acquisition project never left me, meaning many years of trips, reading, and language study. For the last decade, I've supplemented that interest by looking for historically significant French texts to translate (primarily contemporaneous texts about the World Wars and the interwar period). I have degrees in history and international affairs, plus professional experience in military affairs (including the Office of Secretary of Defense) and editing magazines (for Time, Inc.).

Austin's book list on the refugee crisis in Western Europe in WW2

Why did Austin love this book?

Also for historical context, this is a more traditionally constructed history—though also a masterful synthesis of sources—and among those that view the refugee crisis as having a role in France's defeat. Clear, concise and comprehensive; if you read one book about the fall of France, read this.

By Julian Jackson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On 16 May 1940 an emergency meeting of the French High Command was called at the Quai d'Orsay in Paris. The German army had broken through the French lines on the River Meuse at Sedan and elsewhere, only five days after launching their attack. Churchill, who had been telephoned by Prime Minister Reynaud the previous evening to be told that the French were beaten, rushed to Paris to meet the French leaders. The mood in the meeting was one of panic and despair; there
was talk of evacuating Paris. Churchill asked Gamelin, the French Commander in Chief, 'Where is the…


The Queen of Paris

By Pamela Binnings Ewen,

Book cover of The Queen of Paris: A Novel of Coco Chanel

Catherine A. Hamilton Author Of Victoria's War

From the list on inspired by heroic women from around the world.

Who am I?

As a native Oregonian of Polish descent, I was born in the small town of Sweet Home, Oregon. After finishing high school, I moved to Portland where I graduated from Lewis and Clark College with a Master’s degree in psychology. I spent twelve years as a psychotherapist, publishing over a dozen articles. After joining a writing group and trying my hand at fiction, my stories, articles, and poems have been published in magazines and newspapers—including Sarasota Herald-Tribune, The Oregonian, Catholic Sentinel, Dziennik Związkowy, and The Polish American Journal. My debut novel, Victoria’s War, won CIBA’s Hemingway Award for 20th Century Wartime Fiction and was #1 Best Seller on Amazon Kindle Unlimited in German Historical Fiction.

Catherine's book list on inspired by heroic women from around the world

Why did Catherine love this book?

We all know the name of the woman behind the perfume—Coco Chanel, right? But how many of us know the story behind this legendary woman? Very few! I didn’t really know the first thing about her! Still, I loved her! In The Queen of Paris, I got to know the woman who created Chânél No.5 and designed the first “little black dress.”

And I learned why Chânél No. 5 is made in Pairs. The secret is this: because the jasmine used in making this particular perfume is only grown in France! No more spoilers! Except to say that Ewen’s Coco enticed me from the start with gossip and truths about one of the most successful women in the fashion industry—and what lengths she was willing to go to save her life’s work during WWII.

A riveting historical novel that I would read again!

By Pamela Binnings Ewen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Barnes & Noble Pick of Best Indie eBooks of 2020
An iBooks Bestseller in Fiction
A Pop Sugar Pick of Books set in Paris

Legendary fashion designer Coco Chanel is revered for her sophisticated style—the iconic little black dress—and famed for her intoxicating perfume Chanel No. 5. Yet behind the public persona is a complicated woman of intrigue, shadowed by mysterious rumors. The Queen of Paris, the new novel from award-winning author Pamela Binnings Ewen, vividly imagines the hidden life of Chanel during the four years of Nazi occupation in Paris in the midst of WWII—as discovered in recently…


Avenue of Spies

By Alex Kershaw,

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

From the list on the German occupation of France, 1940−1944.

Who am I?

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.

Stew's book list on the German occupation of France, 1940−1944

Why did Stew 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…


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