The story of the French Resistance is central to French identity, but it is a story built on myths. 'La Resistance francaise' was not simply a national effort to free the country from German occupation, but a wider struggle, filled with conflicts and division. It included Spanish republicans, Italian and even German anti-Nazis. The defence against the Holocaust brought in Jewish resisters and Christian rescuers. It involved a civil war for the French Empire in Africa and the Near East. The movement itself was split between those on the far right and the far left, fighting for very different visions of the world. Robert Gildea returns to the testimonies of the resisters themselves, asking who they were, what they believed in and what compelled them to take the terrible risks they did. He brings to the fore the woman resisters, who history neglected. By looking again at the constructions and interplay of the myths surrounding the resistance, Gildea builds a vivid, gripping and entirely new account of one of the most compelling narratives of the Second World War.
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Robert Gildea has spent a lifetime studying modern France. Among his major works are Children of the Revolution, France Since 1945 and The Past in French History. His book, Marianne in Chains, won the Wolfson Prize for History in 2002. He is Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford.
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