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And the Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  279 ratings  ·  56 reviews
On June 14, 1940, German tanks rolled into a silent and deserted Paris. Eight days later, a humbled France accepted defeat along with foreign occupation. The only consolation was that, while the swastika now flew over Paris, the City of Light was undamaged. Soon, a peculiar kind of normality returned as theaters, opera houses, movie theaters and nightclubs reopened for bus ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published October 19th 2010 by Knopf
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Les Misérables by Victor HugoA Moveable Feast by Ernest HemingwayA Tale of Two Cities by Charles DickensMy Life in France by Julia ChildThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Books About Paris
137th out of 446 books — 417 voters
Suite Française by Irène NémirovskyIncident at Vichy by Arthur MillerThe Dream of Scipio by Iain PearsSaving Mona Lisa by Gerri ChanelUnder Total Eclipse We Will Tremble Like Birds Without Song by Lee Vidor
Domestic France in WW II
4th out of 38 books — 18 voters

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Community Reviews

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I give this 4-stars from sheer awe at the breadth of research and in recognition of the value of this book as a resource. If you are at all interested in--as a personal pursuit or as part of scholarly research--France, French literature, art, cinema, World War II, or the presence and impact of the arts during war, this is a must-have companion. But it may be most useful when employed as an encyclopedia, rather than a sit-down-and-read-cover-to-cover book. I did, but it wasn't pretty. There is su ...more
Mikey B.
There are many poignant passages in this book on the occupation of France from 1940 to 1944. It focuses on artist performers and intellectuals (writers, poets…) and how they coped during these trying years. It must be remembered, that initially with Petain, the word “collaboration” had positive connotations – only beginning in 1943 with Stalingrad and U.S. entry into the war, did the word begin to have negative features.

The best chapters are on writers (in a sense the least politically ambiguous
Jill Hutchinson
Somehow I expected more from this book which covers the Nazi Occupation of Paris and how it affected the artistic community. I had already read Occupation by Ian Ousby which piqued my curiosity about the actions of those involved in the arts and maybe settle the question as to collaboration vs. trying to keep their work alive. But the question was not really answered, at least not for me. There were so many individuals in those pages, many of whom were only known to the French population, that I ...more
Jonathan Lopez
To practice their professions under Nazi rule, French artists, writers, and performers had to walk a fine line: collaborating with the enemy meant shame and dishonor, but overt resistance could bring the severest of punishments. In consequence, principles were often sacrificed to expediency, and true heroes were quite rare--as former New York Times cultural correspondent Alan Riding makes clear in this elegantly composed overview of the period.

Riding discusses subjects ranging from Maurice Cheva
On June 14, 1940, German tanks rolled into a deserted Paris. The fact is that the French --who are not above lecturing the United States about morality --behaved more or less like cowards. They didn't quite welcome the Germans with open arms. But they hardly rejected them. Theaters, opera houses, cabarets, nightclubs stayed open for business, welcoming the German soldiers. Down the blocks the Germans were undoubtedly pounding down doors and sending thousands Jews to death camps. But Maurice Che ...more
Ahhh, the complications of serving your art and your German occupiers. Whether you were blowing a Wehrmacht officer in the back seat of his Opel Admiral or publishing thinly veiled anti-German one-act plays from your apartment in the Latin Quarter, Paris during the war was a difficult place for the artist. Particularly the Jewish artist, many of whom were deported and destroyed. Riding does a thorough and entertaining job of explaining how the cultural elite largely managed to ride out the war t ...more
Ah Paris. Filled with can-can girls and wine. Poets and painters. There is that Spanish guy, you know the male slut, and he did that blue painting with the bull.
But seriously folks, and this is a serious book, And the Show Went On is a rather close and compelling look at how the artists of all stripes (painters, writers, dancers, singers and so on) coped (or didn’t) while France was under Nazi Occupation. The focus is mostly on Paris though Vichy France is discussed as well.
It does raise inter
Vivian Valvano
It's dizzying b/c of the plethora of names that bombard you throughout, and Riding does repeat himself sometimes, but what a wealth of information is afforded here. I always want to read everything I can about wartime France, the Vichy government and Petain, the collaborationists, French anti-Semitism, the Resistance, the arrival of the Allies, the Free French, deGaulle ... everything about WWII France/Paris. Riding's research is superb, and his focus on cultural figures in art, music, theatre, ...more
Zohar -
“And The Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris” by Alan Riding is a non-fiction book which tries to investigate the glimmering nightlife in an occupied city. Mr. Riding was the Paris bureau chief of the New York Times.

Each chapter in the book is devoted to a different art, music, opera, dance, film, theater, literary world and more. The book also goes into some detail about the collaborative French Vichy government as well s the reprisals which happened after World War II ended and
This was an interesting read that taught me a lot about what Paris was like during the occupation. Despite its specific focus on Parisian artists and they're response to the Fascist regime, it was a pretty good general overview.

At first the flood of French names seemed overwhelming, but most of them come up fairly often so after a time I got familiar with them.

Occupied Paris was really a study in contradictions. Although occupied by a foreign army, the city was taken without a shot fired, so i
The author definitely deserves credit for being thorough as 10% of the book is required for the bibliography and notes. There were sections of this book that were very interesting and others that seemed like nothing more than reading an endless list of names. It had something of a text book feel to it. I think some editing (in regard to volume) would have made for a more compelling read as I found the subject matter fascinating.
Packed with facts, anecdotes, names and too much detail for me to absorb, but each chapter left me with a few solid points of greater understanding of what cultural life in Paris was like during the German occupation of WWII. As the title says, the show went on, but whether that showed the strength of the French way of life or the weakness of their resistance to the Germans could be debated either way.
Much more information than I wanted. This book is about how artists reacted to the Nazi occupation of France during WWII. Riding included minor artists, naming their works, along with major artists and what they were producing, or not producing during the occupation. I think this book would have been much more interesting cut down by two-thirds of the material.
The period of the occupation is one of the most convoluted, ambiguous, and disturbing of all French history, and to take the angle of the cultural life in Paris under the Nazi rule to write about it is a terrific idea. The great thing is that Riding knows what he’s writing about, and the scope of his painting is quite stunning: writers, painters, moviemakers and stars, singers, journalists… Nobody escapes his gaze. Hhis objective, although passionate and sometimes compassionate, description of w ...more
Al Bità
Most histories of the Second World War are concerned, naturally enough, with the War itself. Less attention tends to be given to other matters. This history of the Cultural life of Paris during the Nazi occupation redresses that omission, some 70 years after the events, after most of the potential recrimination have had time to cool off. The result is both fascinating and disturbing in equal measure.

The book begins with a brilliant chapter which provides earlier links to the main events, introdu
This is an extremely well researched book. At some point in time, every Frenchmen you've ever heard of, several Spaniards, some Russian and Polish refugees and lots of Germans parade through its' pages. All of them have something to do with the arts in some form or another. Some are good people just trying to earn a living and some are rabidly anti-Semitic, pro Fascist, pro Nazi bad people and sometimes, it's hard to tell the difference.

That's the central problem with this book. There are way to
Nobody regards the French quite as highly as the French. Paradoxically, nobody holds the French in as low regard as the French. Witness Gide's lament as the Nazi war machine approaches - "O incurably frivolous people of France! You are going to pay dearly today for your lack of application, your heedlessness, your smug reclining among so many charming virtues."

Still, once it became obvious nobody was coming to the rescue, the French managed quite well (with some indulgence from the Occupation fo
Alan Riding’s new book, “And the Show Went on,” portrays, in a winningly detailed manner, the resistance and collaboration of those involved with French culture – the stage, the screen, visual art, writing, and music -- during the Nazi occupation.

After the fall of France, the Germans wanted Parisian cultural institutions reopened for several reasons. First, if Parisians were “kept entertained,” they might be less troublesome. But there was another reason, found in the words of propaganda minist
As thorough a one volume exegesis of the era as a general history reader would require. Although one might desire more reflection, more overview of the copious detail provided by veteran journalist Riding, the book does cover an impressive range of actions and actors of the era. Those who desire more information on certain incidents or personalities, as I do with the admirable Camus or the execrable Celine will find Mr. Riding's endnotes a source of great depth. As laden with detail as it is, th ...more
The Show Went On Indeed
The Show Went On is a riveting portrait of how Paris's politically varied and glittering cultural elite such as Celine, Camus and Picasso worked and played during the development of the Nazi era. Often chilling in its expose of just how close and dangerous the Reich's rule came to destroying the future of art and culture, it is well-researched and diverse in its investigation
Bookmarks Magazine
"An arresting and detailed account" (Los Angeles Times) of Paris during the Nazi occupation, this incisive and sympathetic examination resists passing judgment on the men and women forced to endure its ignominies. Instead, it offers keen insights into the ethical quandaries posed by censorship, subjugation, and cooperation. Less concerned with the era's wide-ranging repercussions, Riding focuses on the stories -- revealing anecdotes and character sketches -- to endow his subject with a human fac ...more
Very good as an overall survey of the cultural life of France during the Nazi occupation. If I had a criticism it would be that the book suffers a little for being too thorough and I think Riding would have done better to focus on fewer individuals but go into a little more depth with each of them. Many of the figures - especially the writers - are of little interest today but the actions of people like Sartre, Camus, Drieu La Rochelle, Brasillach, Carne, Chevalier, Paulhan, Rose Valland, Darrie ...more
Gina Phillips
lovely book. If you enjoy learning about the cultural life of the Parisians during world war 2, this is a great book for you. Many of the artists, authors, musicians, actors, and other celebrities mentioned in this book, I had never heard of but that did not distract from my enjoyment of the book. I learned a great deal about the cultural life and atmosphere of Paris under Nazi occupation in the early 1940s. If you enjoy reading about World War 2, give this book a try.
Riding delivers more than he promises, offering a thorough, perhaps exhaustive, study of French culture under occupation, including the theater, movies, literature, music, and the fine arts, including not just Paris but the countryside and Vichy. Throughout, he illustrates the extremes of resistance and collaboration, and the more common grey areas in between.
An excellent view of war time Paris. Eye opening as well as informative. Should be read in conjunction with the novel "Suite Francaises".
The book's focus on the arts and artists and it's complication of the dichotomy of resistance/collaboration in occupied Paris makes it an interesting read. Loved the concluding chapter's blunt assessment of the role of art in an occupied society. Also appreciated the assessment of the aftermath of occupation on French culture, cultural institutions, and cultural figures. But I don't think this book is for beginning readers of modern French history. You do need some familiarity with the more cont ...more
Very informative, but dense to read, particularly when you have 2 small children in the house and get little focused reading time. I did, however, enjoy immersing myself into this era of French history. At times, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of names and examples Riding presents. I might have better enjoyed him delving further into fewer subjects (such as his touching description of Irène Némirovsky's tragic attempt to keep her and her family safe from Nazi occupiers). However, the author cl ...more
James R. C.  Baker
I enjoyed Riding's galleries of culture, society, politics and gossip during and after the occupation.
How did people in France get by during World War II. This book inquires into the lives to the most accessible lives, those of painter, writers, filmmakers and other intellectuals. They wrote, painted and performed. Some collaborated others resisted. Most, it seems, got by, trying to realize their various ambitions in very strange times. Riding's book is written episodically, with chapters on different groups of people. In spite of this format I found myself eager to go on to the next chapter. It ...more
Pretty interesting book. Talks about how the cultural life in Paris and a little in Vichy during World War 2. It references the Vél d'Hiv several times, which was the premise of 'Sarah's Key'. In several places it focuses on Irène Némirovsky, the author of 'Suite Française', and her experiences. Very interesting to hear about what was happening with people like Sartre, Beauvoir, Becket, Edith Piaf, Josephine Baker, CoCo Chanel and even Picasso; I never realized how active he was in the French cu ...more
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“the words of Anthony Eden, Britain’s wartime foreign secretary: “If one hasn’t been through the horrors of an occupation by a foreign power, you have no right to pronounce upon what a country does which has been through all that.” 1 likes
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