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Americans in Paris: Life and Death Under Nazi Occupation

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  776 ratings  ·  102 reviews

Acclaimed journalist Charlie Glass looks to the American expatriate experience of Nazi-occupied Paris to reveal a fascinating forgotten history of the greatest generation.

In Americans in Paris, tales of adventure, intrigue, passion, deceit, and survival unfold season by season, from the spring of 1940 to liberation in the summer of 1944, as renowned journalist Charles Gla

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Published November 12th 2010 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published January 1st 2009)
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An excellent account of historical events occurring in one of the cultural capitals of the world during one of the most intriguing, confusing, and disturbing periods of modern history. Glass uses an extremely accessible tone to discuss the events taking place within the scope of this book's focus, making it easy to get very quickly sucked in. However, I would caution readers that the accessible tone is mildly deceptive - this book will reference many, many personages across multiple chapters and ...more
This is a sort of uneven read -- there are parts that are thrilling and fascinating, but long sections that are quite dry. The book focuses on a relatively large number of individuals, and I'm not sure that even a book of this length can devote enough space to each one to fix them all in the reader's mind. Several stuck out and as the book circled back to them, I was happy to see their threads picked back up, but there were a few who I kept having to refer back to remember who they were. Somethi ...more
Loving all things Paris in the early 20th Century, I was really looking forward to reading this book. While the book attempts to focus upon certain key individuals during the occupation, I was never able to connect fully with them or their story, perhaps due to the book's format and too many other characters being woven into the chapters. I may have connected best if the book focused on one character's story at a time instead of dispersing the chapters. I am curious to see how others reacted to ...more
I found this book a mixed bag of good and not-so-good. There was a lot of information presented that was new to me. I found myself engrossed into the lives of Americans in Nazi-Occupied France and in all the varying degrees of their collaboration, help to the Resistance, or just trying to survive intact. It's very evident that the author put a lot of time into research and into writing a valid non-fictional, scholarly book. He was also able to balance it out with an enjoyable reading style that ...more
The author, Charles Glass, uses vignettes from a variety of American ex-pats--who appear as repeating characters through the course of the book--to describe what life in Paris under Nazi occupation was like for individuals possessing American citizenship(either exclusively or in tandem with French citizenship) who lived there at the time. The story is gripping and the various people featured representative of a broad spectrum of individuals who made the city of light their home before and during ...more
I really tried. I really wanted to like this book. I’d heard such great things about it, what with the praise from the Sunday Times, the New York Times and the Daily Telegraph. It’s even right up the alley of a lot of World War II books that I’ve read and liked, and I always admire impeccable historical research.

But I just couldn’t make myself like it. In fact, I left it on my desk in Chicago while I was on vacation in Arizona for a month, and I wasn’t even all that eager to come back to it. Nev
Mary Shafer
A thorough and intriguing account of how American expats and government officials lived in and around occupied Paris, something I'd begun to wonder about. It really gives an excellent window into how everyday Parisians lived, as well. Obviously incredibly well researched, but there were SO many people to keep track of, I found it difficult not to get no fused. Some kind of relational chart might have helped, since most people covered had some relationship or connection to at least one other. Als ...more
Gil Burket
With the benefit of hindsight, how crazy would an American have to be to remain in France as the hostilities of WWII began to unfold?

Charles Glass, notable Middle East correspondent for ABC news answers that question with his book "Americans in Paris: Life and Death Under Nazi Occupation 1940-44".

It turns out that life in France was quite comfortable for many Americans during the prewar years. A favorable exchange rate with the US dollar, low prices and cost of living, and a liberal attitude com
Apr 28, 2013 Ariane marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Eh, having a hard time getting into this one. Too dry. The stories about African-Americans in occupied France are the most interesting part of the book, but if I'm being honest then I've got to say that, as for everybody else, I don't care. (And the chapter on the Bomb Plot in Paris is only about a page long. Boo! Hiss!) Oh well, I'm more of an Eastern Front kinda of gal myself but it was worth a shot. I'm always excited to find a book about American civilians in Europe during WWII. No rating th ...more
Great history lesson, the author really impresses me with the research and interesting details of side stories that were developing while the Jewish people were marched to their deaths. Always a difficult subject, but a subject that should not be forgotten so it does not happen again.
This was an engrossing and compelling story of an assortment of Americans in Paris during WW2. It really brings you in to what Paris was like then---almost incomprehensible to those of us who have only been there in recent times. Sobering. Puts faces on history.
Gina Pelz
One of the absolutely driest books I have ever read. It actually was killing my desire to read and had to stop and read something in between finishing this just to get my groove back. I am so happy to be done with it (book club selection).
So why the 4 stars? Crazy huh??? This book was so well researched and jam packed full of so many facts and so much information that Mr. Glass deserves a good review. What made it dry, and such a difficult read for me was that it had so much information it was
Bob H
This book fills a gap in World War II history. It is not a military history, nor of the Paris occupation generally, or even the full story of several thousand Americans trapped there. Rather, it tight-focuses on a few high-society characters: Clara Longworth de Chambrun, businessman Charles Bedaux, Dr. Sumner Jackson of the American Hospital, bookshop owner Sylvia Beach, and their families and circles of friends. It's a compelling story in that none of these people could stay neutral in those ti ...more

Paris is the city of light, the literary capital of the western world, a gathering place, a place of love and yet for one dark period it was an occupied city with the bleak flags of the Nazi horror fluttering from every post and building and the sound of the Jackboot replacing the light murmur of the streets. The city was saved because it declared no resistance and we all better off because of that.
But the people suffered from lack of heat, lack of food, lack of freedom and life in occupied plac
Jerry Kinney
What a golden opportunity to present such an interesting, albeit somber time for "City of Lights". Thought the individual characterization was spot on however the overall dynamics of those years was lacking.
Aley Martin
Well done compilation of the lives of a dozen or more people in Paris during the occupation.
Although 'Americans in Paris' is ostensibly about AMERICANS in the City of Light under Nazi occupation, it really paints a portrait of life of Parisians in general during this time. The American ex-pat community at the time was large and influential, and many of them were as French as they were American. They very much shared in the experience of native Parisians under Nazi rule, including their privations and their difficult decisions.

The book follows the fortunes of several different Americans
Glass brings to life a time that seems far away today when you are strolling and admiring the streets of lovely Paris, yet it was not all that long ago that the city and its citizen endured the brutal Nazi war machine. This is the story of a number of Americans, ranging from an industrialist, to a doctor who gave his life in the Resistance movement, to Sylvia Beach and her famed Shakespeare and Co. bookstore. Each person profiled chose to stay in spite of warnings to leave and each had his or he ...more
Kathleen Hagen
Americans in Paris: Life and Death Under Nazi Occupation, by Charles Glass, narrated by Malcolm Hillgartner, produced by Blackstone Audio, downloaded from

Publisher’s note says it all:
Acclaimed journalist Charles Glass looks to the American expatriate experience of Nazi-occupied Paris to reveal a fascinating forgotten history of the
greatest generation. In Americans in Paris, tales of adventure, intrigue, passion, deceit, and survival unfold season by season as renowned journalist
Jill Hutchinson
This is the engrossing story of those 2,000+ Americans who found a home in Paris and either refused to leave when the Nazis occupied the city or waited too late to escape. The author concentrates on a small and diverse group of these Americans and follows their activities from Occupation to Liberation.....they were either resistors, collaborators or tried to remain neutral just to stay alive. They were authors, aristocrats, physicians, and industrialists and each reacted in a manner which they t ...more
Although I found the book to be quite an interesting read, it pales in comparison with the similarly themed "And the Show Went On". For one thing, the book is too long (some of the short 2-3 page chapters should have been cut) and the author's style is a bit dry. The author is determined to squeeze every last detail out of the sources of evidence that he has tracked down and crammed them in his narrative. Entire pages have nothing to do with Americans' experiences in Paris but are set in North A ...more
I'm a WWII geek, so I eat up stuff like this, especially nonfiction. Charles Glass has done an amazing amount of research about the handful of people whose stories he shares, in some cases you might say almost to a fault.

That said, despite all the detail, I had to keep trudging through to find out what happened to these people by war's end.

If you're looking for lots of cool stories about the resistance, sadly there wasn't enough of that for me -- and what was there was really pretty low-key.

I al
This book follows the lives of a number of American citizens - some natural-born, some the French-born children of Americans parents, other naturalised citizens - who chose to remain behind in Paris following the invasion by the Nazis in 1940. Their lives are all very different, one a doctor in the American Hospital, another a bookseller, a third a naturalised business and entrepreneur; and they all chose very different paths in reaction to the German occupation, ranging from the extremes of res ...more
This is history brought to life. History is more than dates, facts, famous people and chronology, and this book is a wonderful reminder of the living breathing people living their lives during an uncommon time who make history in their unique way.

A wonderful selection of (historical) characters to tell the story of the occupation of Paris during WWII. Through each of the characters, you get a sense of the passion, desperation, heroism, loss and love that made up the lives of the people in Paris.
Good account of what life was like in Paris during WWII for the Americans who stayed behind. Interesting as this book is, it is bogged down by the minutiae of facts. Glass seemed to feel compelled to include everything. This made the reading seem episodic and disjointed. However, it is still a good read and informative.
I enjoyed the hell out of this. Beautifully researched. Parts of it brought me to tears because OMG what horrible things were done by human beings to other human beings. Other parts were just made of awesome. STRONG female component: lots of awesome women, several of whom were queer. Note that this is exactly what it says on the tin. The stories are of people holding American passports who stayed in Paris during the German occupation and what happened to them after the US declared war on Germany ...more
Thierry Sagnier
From 1940 to 1944 was a bad time to be a Parisian, unless you were willing to cozy up to the invading Nazis. Glass explores those unhappy years. The writing is a bit dry and scholastic, but that doesn't much away from the book. This is for all the Parisophiles out there.
Virginia Jacobs
In my ongoing attempt to stop reading books that I just don't find interesting, I made it more than 100 pages through this book before I decided that it wasn't for me. It's a thoroughly researched and well-written book that simply didn't draw me in.
More like 3.5. Lots of stories and backstories about people who stayed in France as the Nazis marched in. For example, I never knew that as all the French officials left Paris that summer of 1940, they put the American ambassador in charge of turning the city over to the Germans. Stories about African American soldiers were fascinating (and shameful to read how other Americans treated them). Sylvia Beach is here too, of course.

Readable but still detailed--I could picture the buildings and stree
Mostly a description of the rich and famous and how "they" saved the French... I cannot recommend this book and suggest that you read "And the Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris" by Alan Riding.
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Charles Glass is an author, journalist and broadcaster, who specializes in the Middle East. He made headlines when taken hostage for 62 days in Lebanon by Shi’a militants in 1987, while writing a book during his time as ABC’s News chief Middle East correspondent. He writes regularly for the New York Review of Books, Harper’s, the London Review of Books and The Spectator. He is the author of Syria ...more
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