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In the Shadows of War: An American Pilot's Odyssey Through Occupied France and the Camps of Nazi Germany

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A "masterful example of nonfiction brought to life"* —the harrowing account of an aviator's World War II journey and the two people who helped him along the way In a small village in France during the fateful summer of 1944, three disparate lives converged in an unlikely secret alliance. Just after D-Day, Colette Florin hid downed American bomber pilot Roy Allen in her room A "masterful example of nonfiction brought to life"* —the harrowing account of an aviator's World War II journey and the two people who helped him along the way In a small village in France during the fateful summer of 1944, three disparate lives converged in an unlikely secret alliance. Just after D-Day, Colette Florin hid downed American bomber pilot Roy Allen in her rooms above the tiny girls' school where she taught. While concealing him, she was drawn deeper into the clandestine world of the regional underground. There she met the local leader of the Resistance: Pierre Mulsant, a young Frenchman trained by the British secret service who had parachuted into France in the spring of 1944. Drawn from extensive interviews, letters, and archival documents in Britain, France, Germany, and the United States, In the Shadows of War follows the fateful twists and turns of Allen's journey from rural France to Paris, capture by the Gestapo, imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp and then a POW camp, and eventual liberation. It is an unforgettable, profoundly moving human drama of love and courage and sacrifice. *The Washington Post Book World


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A "masterful example of nonfiction brought to life"* —the harrowing account of an aviator's World War II journey and the two people who helped him along the way In a small village in France during the fateful summer of 1944, three disparate lives converged in an unlikely secret alliance. Just after D-Day, Colette Florin hid downed American bomber pilot Roy Allen in her room A "masterful example of nonfiction brought to life"* —the harrowing account of an aviator's World War II journey and the two people who helped him along the way In a small village in France during the fateful summer of 1944, three disparate lives converged in an unlikely secret alliance. Just after D-Day, Colette Florin hid downed American bomber pilot Roy Allen in her rooms above the tiny girls' school where she taught. While concealing him, she was drawn deeper into the clandestine world of the regional underground. There she met the local leader of the Resistance: Pierre Mulsant, a young Frenchman trained by the British secret service who had parachuted into France in the spring of 1944. Drawn from extensive interviews, letters, and archival documents in Britain, France, Germany, and the United States, In the Shadows of War follows the fateful twists and turns of Allen's journey from rural France to Paris, capture by the Gestapo, imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp and then a POW camp, and eventual liberation. It is an unforgettable, profoundly moving human drama of love and courage and sacrifice. *The Washington Post Book World

30 review for In the Shadows of War: An American Pilot's Odyssey Through Occupied France and the Camps of Nazi Germany

  1. 5 out of 5

    Eric_W

    Roy Allen was shot down over France in 1944. He was taken by the French Resistance and "billeted" in the home of a French teacher, Colette Florin. Allen was hardly an easy captive. He had a tendency to wander around, refused often to stay hidden, and finally, in a move that resulted in his capture, tried to escape back to England just as the Allies were about to invade Normandy. Had he shown a little more patience he might have escaped capture by the Germans and not had to suffer a forced march Roy Allen was shot down over France in 1944. He was taken by the French Resistance and "billeted" in the home of a French teacher, Colette Florin. Allen was hardly an easy captive. He had a tendency to wander around, refused often to stay hidden, and finally, in a move that resulted in his capture, tried to escape back to England just as the Allies were about to invade Normandy. Had he shown a little more patience he might have escaped capture by the Germans and not had to suffer a forced march in the winter to Buchenwald. I was surprised at the dedication of the partisans. Allen, who was secreted in Florin's upstairs apartment at the school where she taught, would sing and listen to the radio. At one point it became clear that despite Florins precautions, others in the school knew about the airman who was in hiding. Allen had injured his back during the parachute jump out of his plane and, despite the extreme danger, Florin had the local doctor come treat it. The allies had landed in Normandy so all Allen really had to do was wait for their arrival. By this time he was on the Florin farm, well-liked by the family, and reasonably safe. He insisted on trying to escape to Spain. The network got him to Paris where again the back injury put the entire network at risk. They called in two different doctors to attempt a diagnosis for the extreme back pain and very high fever.​ ​ Delivered into the hands of the Gestapo by some infiltrators of the resistance network, Allen was imprisoned first near Paris, and then, as the Allies got closer, was transferred by train to a concentration camp in the east. The conditions were horrific and Childers describes them with great empathy and detail. Nothing like being strafed by your own side. Allen’s suffering in the concentration camp at the hands of the SS was horrific. Childers has gone to great lengths to be as accurate as possible, citing numerous interviews and documents, but the experiences of Pierre, who helped Allen get to Paris, clearly must have necessitated some invention of thought and deed, as he was executed at Buchenwald before the end of the war. He explains his technique and the basis for it in the postscript; it’s only a short chapter in the larger story of Allen but feels slightly out of place. But I quibble. Childers, author of Wings Of Morning: The Story Of The Last American Bomber Shot Down Over Germany In World War II, an excellent book from which Stephen Ambrose plagiarized,* has written an exciting and richly detailed account of the dangers and value of being in the French resistance as well as the horrors faced by those in concentration camps.​ ​ When this book was written Allen's wife was still alive and living near Philadelphia. She and Colette became fast friends after the war and still maintain cordial and frequent contact.​ *For more on the plagiarism see http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content... and http://www.forbes.com/2002/02/27/0227...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Suze

    This is a non-fiction story of a pilot who's shot down in occupied France. It reads like fiction but is a true story, and a wonderful read. Made me respect the French more than I have in the past. This is a non-fiction story of a pilot who's shot down in occupied France. It reads like fiction but is a true story, and a wonderful read. Made me respect the French more than I have in the past.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stuart Keating

    Well written, flows easily while reading. Descriptions of events an surroundings very detailed. Historically on point.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jack Madden

    Childers is a history professor at Penn, and this book is very well researched yet written in a very readable prose style.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Liz V.

    The hard scrabble life in Philly stands pilot Roy Allen in good stead when his plane is shot down over France in WWII. When, against the advice of his friends in the Resistance, Allen attempts to return to England, he is betrayed and sent, not to a POW camp but to Buchenwald where a number of pilots and SOE agents are held. The SOE agents are executed, but the pilots are, in the main, eventually claimed by the Luftwaffe and incarcerated as POW. Allen, however, is too sick to be released to the L The hard scrabble life in Philly stands pilot Roy Allen in good stead when his plane is shot down over France in WWII. When, against the advice of his friends in the Resistance, Allen attempts to return to England, he is betrayed and sent, not to a POW camp but to Buchenwald where a number of pilots and SOE agents are held. The SOE agents are executed, but the pilots are, in the main, eventually claimed by the Luftwaffe and incarcerated as POW. Allen, however, is too sick to be released to the Luftwaffe until months later. Then he, and thousands of POWs, endure death marches from camp to camp in the face of Germany's collapse.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    Extremely well-researched, tells the story of pilot Roy Allen's experiences flying missions, bailing out over France when his plane was fatally hit, and his subsequent days of hiding from the Nazis and his eventual capture and imprisonment. Also described are many details of the French resistance movement, and the ordeals of a couple of agents in particular. The story is told in narrative form, so that although non-fiction, it reads like a novel and it compels you to continue reading to find out Extremely well-researched, tells the story of pilot Roy Allen's experiences flying missions, bailing out over France when his plane was fatally hit, and his subsequent days of hiding from the Nazis and his eventual capture and imprisonment. Also described are many details of the French resistance movement, and the ordeals of a couple of agents in particular. The story is told in narrative form, so that although non-fiction, it reads like a novel and it compels you to continue reading to find out what happens next to Roy, his aides in hiding him, and the French resistance operatives. Warning - the books spares no details of the horrors of Buchenwald.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sally

    I'm amazed with some of the striking parallels between Roy Allen's story and my dad's - 8th Air Force, B-17s, the resistance in Northern France, captured in Paris, a stint in Fresnes Prison, Stalag Luft III, the "Death March", Moosburg...thanks to Prof. Childers' love of historic fact/detail, I'm gleaning many interesting factoids/points that would normally take me quite a bit of research time!! My only criticism for the lay reader (ie someone not fluent in both German and French) is that there I'm amazed with some of the striking parallels between Roy Allen's story and my dad's - 8th Air Force, B-17s, the resistance in Northern France, captured in Paris, a stint in Fresnes Prison, Stalag Luft III, the "Death March", Moosburg...thanks to Prof. Childers' love of historic fact/detail, I'm gleaning many interesting factoids/points that would normally take me quite a bit of research time!! My only criticism for the lay reader (ie someone not fluent in both German and French) is that there are quite a few untranslated phrases peppered throughout the text. [Thank God for degrees in Französisch und/et Allemand!! :-)]

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rod Zemke

    What happens when you get an academic historian writing a book about a pilot's personal story through WWII--a book that needed a David Halberstam to write it. This is not meant to be any disrespect to Thomas Childers who is an excellent historian, but the story would have been better if written by story-teller. What happens when you get an academic historian writing a book about a pilot's personal story through WWII--a book that needed a David Halberstam to write it. This is not meant to be any disrespect to Thomas Childers who is an excellent historian, but the story would have been better if written by story-teller.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tara Brooks

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It is a difficult book to get through because of the way it is written but the essence of the story being told is interesting. In the Shadows of War tells the story of a pilot who is shot down, hidden from the Germans by French resistance, and is ultimately taken as a POW. What makes this worth reading is the information and the story of the French resistance.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Marie Hazzard

    Roy Allen was my father, William Hazzard's best friend. Growing up in knew Roy and his wife Mae. Roy was such a witty funny man always making jokes and laughing. My mother gave me a copy of the book right after it was written and to read of the danger and hardships he went through was amazing. To know him you would have never guessed what he went through. A great book to read. Roy Allen was my father, William Hazzard's best friend. Growing up in knew Roy and his wife Mae. Roy was such a witty funny man always making jokes and laughing. My mother gave me a copy of the book right after it was written and to read of the danger and hardships he went through was amazing. To know him you would have never guessed what he went through. A great book to read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    An American pilot is shot down during WWII and, along with a bunch of other Allied prisoners, accidently sent to Buchenwald(!). Obviously he makes it, but comes out with a pretty harrowing tale. What really stuck with me was an anecdote about a guy who is in the infirmary at Buchenwald and somehow gets a hold of a piece of bacon, which he nurses for many hours.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Phil

    An excellent historical account of a downed pilot in WW2 over France.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn

    Great book, had never heard about the airmen who were put into concentration camps instead of POW camps.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    awesome

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    An American pilot’s odyssey through occupied France and the camps of Nazi Germany. Enjoyed this very much... Shows what great risks were being taken to help Allied pilots who had been shot down.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

    Loved this book. Amazing what someone can do and indure to survive.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brit Barbie

    Great book that teaches the reader about the lives of "normal" people living in France and in the camps during WW2. Very intense at some points. Read just like a novel. Great book that teaches the reader about the lives of "normal" people living in France and in the camps during WW2. Very intense at some points. Read just like a novel.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Aimee

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

  20. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Bazzett

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jim Waeltz

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Jones

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Kidd

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Wood

  26. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mindy

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kellie

  29. 5 out of 5

    SkipO

  30. 5 out of 5

    Marianne Brennan

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