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When Paris Went Dark

The City of Light under German Occupation, 1940-1944
Narrated by: Malcolm Hillgartner
Length: 14 hrs
Categories: History, 20th Century
4 out of 5 stars (125 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The spellbinding and revealing chronicle of Nazi-occupied Paris.

On June 14, 1940, German tanks entered a silent and nearly deserted Paris. Eight days later, France accepted a humiliating defeat and foreign occupation. Subsequently, an eerie sense of normalcy settled over the City of Light. Many Parisians keenly adapted themselves to the situation - even allied themselves with their Nazi overlords. At the same time, amidst this darkening gloom of German ruthlessness, shortages, and curfews, a resistance arose. Parisians of all stripes-Jews, immigrants, adolescents, communists, rightists, cultural icons such as Colette, de Beauvoir, Camus and Sartre, as well as police officers, teachers, students, and store owners-rallied around a little known French military officer, Charles de Gaulle.

When Paris Went Dark evokes with stunning precision the detail of daily life in a city under occupation, and the brave people who fought against the darkness. Relying on a range of resources - memoirs, diaries, letters, archives, interviews, personal histories, flyers and posters, fiction, photographs, film and historical studies - Rosbottom has forged a groundbreaking audiobook that will forever influence how we understand those dark years in the City of Light.

©2014 Ronald C. Rosbottom (P)2014 Hachette Audio

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • gaillardia
  • Larkspur, Colorado, United States
  • 08-21-14

Good but not great

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I was expecting a book that I could not wait to listen to each time I got in my car, but I was a bit disappointed. I feel that the book lacked a personal perspective and felt too broad. Moments within it had a personal touch, but overall, it was faceless.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Compelling Account of Nazi Occupation

Would you listen to When Paris Went Dark again? Why?

I would listen to it again in a couple of years, because of its insights into an intriguing moment in history.

What did you like best about this story?

The author provides intelligent, insightful analysis of a time period that has been covered before. He brings together the insights of many historians, and adds his own astute observations.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting

Well done story about Paris under Nazi occupation - even for someone that's not a history buff. Seem to repeat some - same info in a different way.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

not a page turner

What disappointed you about When Paris Went Dark?

I expected a novel but this is written text book style, merely stating the difficulties people endured, with no characters to bring the reader empathetically into the situation. I did pick this after listening to "The Nightengale" and I guess expected something similar. For the type of book that it is, it is fine.

What do you think your next listen will be?

THE PAYING GUESTS

What three words best describe Malcolm Hillgartner’s performance?

good for this

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

It was done well for content but not an enlightening or entertaining read.

Any additional comments?

I don't know how I could have known that this book would not involve specific people or situations on a personal level.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

An informative read

"When Paris Went Dark" challenges some of the cherished myths about Germany's conquest of France and the dedication and effectiveness of "La Résistance." Per Rosbottom, a consensus has developed in recent years that France's unimaginably speedy defeat to Germany was the result of negligence and sheer incompetence. The vaunted Maginot Line, built in the 1930s, was forever to protect France from invasion by Germany. But it was obsolete only a few years after construction (if not, in fact, during construction). When Germany attacked, its tanks simply bypassed the linked pillboxes of the Maginot Line by rolling over the forest that lay to its north. Presumably, it was inconceivable to the French in the 1930s that any army could launch a successful attack by proceeding through the thick and overgrown forest.

Also, the Résistance is presented as accomplishing little against the Germans, and such resistance as there was was primarily carried out by adolescents. There were instances of valiant resistance, of course, but not the alleged street-to-street fighting by a fearless and organized opposition force that gave the Germans hell for four years. And as to the Résistance, de Gaulle is stripped of his plumage as the man who ostensibly saved France by making intermittent broadcasts on BBC Radio, from London, of encouragement to the French people. After Paris was liberated, he pushed the falsehood that French resistance fighters, assisted in their efforts by the Allied forces, had liberated Paris themselves.

Finally, the narrator is very good at reading the author's text. But he is just awful enough at pronouncing French, and when he reads quoted language, he adopts what he imagines to be the character's voice. G-r-a-t-i-n-g.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful