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Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family's Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Paris

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  2,452 ratings  ·  385 reviews
The best-selling author of The Liberator brings to life the incredible true story of an American doctor in Paris, and his heroic espionage efforts during World War II
The leafy Avenue de Foch, one of the most exclusive residential streets in Nazi-occupied France, was Paris's hotbed of daring spies, murderous secret police, amoral informers, and Vichy collaborators. So w
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 4th 2015 by Crown
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Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,452 ratings  ·  385 reviews

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Start your review of Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family's Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Paris
Diane S ☔
Oct 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Reading about an unsung hero is always special and Dr. Sumner Jackson went above and beyond, paid a heavy price. When the Nazis entered Paris, Dr. Sumner was the chief surgeon, he stayed when most of the other doctors resigned, leaving Paris. He and his wife, Toquette joined the French resistance and aided many in information and helping other get to safety.

I felt emotionally drained after reading this book. Reading about the Nazis actions in the four years they were in charge of Paris was horri
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family's Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Paris was the heartbreaking tale of the horrors of Nazi-occupied Paris, the French Resistance fighters and an American family that risked it all. Sumner Jackson was an American physician and surgeon living with his wife and young son on the exclusive and beautiful tree-lined Avenue Foch in the heart of Paris. Sumner Jackson served as a combat physician during World War I where he met ...more
 Charlie - A Reading Machine
Aug 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
A real joy to read and a complete immersion into Nazi occupied Paris. There is so little that is black and white with decent people allowing horrible things to happen to save their own lives or serve their own purpose. If you are a fan of this time period in history dont hesitate to grab this book, you wont put it down.
Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you want to read at least one great book this summer, I strongly suggest you pick this one. I feel as though I was transported to Paris, to Avenue Foch from the beginning of the German Occupation and stayed until the liberation-though in reality, it was only a two day stay. From the second I began to peruse the first page as I usually do when I get a new book, I could hardly put this down. Avenue Of Spies by Alex Kershaw has it all: guts and glory, horror, bravery, cowardice, greed, atrocity ...more
Jul 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I learned so much from this compelling book. It was such an interesting story and while it was a lot of historic information, it was not a boring read. Alex Kershaw writes about the family of Dr. Sumner Jackson, an American physician working in Paris.

When WWII breaks out, and the Nazis invalid Paris, Dr. Sumner helps to save Allied soldiers and Jewish Frenchmen by falsifying medical documents. His family becomes part of the Resistance, and actually lives on the same street that the Nazis decide
Nov 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Alex Kershaw never disappoints. He has a knack for discovering, researching, and telling rich, warm, and meaningful World War II tales. In Avenue of Spies, Kershaw writes about an American born doctor living in Paris who gave everything to help save fallen British pilots and other allied forces during the darkest hours of Nazi terror. A gripping story of a courage and heroism.
Cynthia Dunn
I continue to read Holocaust and Nazi history because I keep wanting to be reminded and never to forget how brutal men can be to their fellow men. This book was different in one respect. It showed how courageous, strong, and unself serving the Resistance could be. Amazing book.
Bob Schnell
Jul 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Advanced reading copy review Due to be published August 4, 2015

"Avenue of Spies" by Alex Kershaw is a gripping, fascinating look at life for an American family in Paris under the Nazis. Sumner Jackson was a surgeon from Maine who was working in the American hospital in Paris because his Swiss wife couldn't stand living in the USA. Their son Phillip was a typical teen-ager who was comfortable in both worlds. When the German army invaded France, Sumner decided that his job at the hospital was too
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was definitely an interesting and informative book. It mostly dealt with one family (a husband, wife and their young son) who lived on Avenue Foch which just happened to be one of the richest streets of Paris during the second World War.

The father was a doctor who was instrumental in getting a lot of people out of Paris and into ally countries. His wife was instrumental in getting involved with the resistance.

Of course, there were other players in the book but these were the main ones. The
Aug 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-ww2
An interesting book about an American family--Dr. Sumner Jackson, his French wife Toquette, and their teenage son Phillip--who lived on Avenue Foch in Paris during World War II--a street that became synonymous with being arrested by the Gestapo, the SS, or the SD, and from there disappearing into Hitler's Night and Fog. One wonders throughout the book if and when the Jacksons will cease to be overlooked by the Nazis. Kershaw does a good job of telling their story in the context of the occupation ...more
Aug 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
A great read!!!!! Frightening account of very brave people!!!!
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
Jul 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, history
The Avenue of Spies was a very difficult book to read. But this is a very special story, one of an incredibly heroic doctor and his family.

Dr. Sumnar Jackson was working in Paris in the 1930’s. He was a part of a group of Americans who had volunteered for the British Medical Corp. While there he met and fell in love with a Swiss nurse who was working with the French. He married Charlotte and they returned to the States.

In 1940 Toquette and Philip moved back to Paris, he was then head of the ANH
Robin Henry
The past few years of major anniversaries for important events of World War II coupled with the passing of so many of the heroes and villains of that time have brought forth a plethora of interesting and lesser known stories from the war. Avenue of Spies tells of the occupation of Paris and the French Resistance from the perspective of an American doctor who lived in Paris and worked at the American hospital there in alternating chapters with the point of view of the Nazi and SS officers who too ...more
Aug 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-ii
Heart rending and wrenching, yet uplifting, Alex Kershaw’s account of quiet heroism transports the reader to the streets of Paris during the Nazi occupation. Sumner Jackson, an American surgeon, was living in Paris with his Swiss wife Toquette and young son Phillip when the war was imminent. Their beautiful home was located on Avenue Foch, a street which would come to be associated with unspeakable horrors in the days to come. Many neighboring homes were subsequently seized by the SS for use as ...more
Jennifer Eckel
Via-Netgallery. While I gave this only 3 stars I did like the book and would encourage WWII readers to find and read this book. It tells of an American and his European wife who aided the French Resistance in WWII right under the nose of the Nazis occupiers of Paris. How the family triumphed and would do it all over again, is proper testimony from the unsung heroes and heroines of WWII. I'm glad the story was told.
I do have issues with the writer's style. At times he is gossipy, and his use of a
Jacqueline Alvarez
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is a story of American doctor, his Swiss born wife and his french son who did not sit silent while the Germans tried to destroy France. Time and again they could have walked away as the neither of their countries was involved in the war, when they started their resistance work but they believed what was happening was wrong and did something about it. Time and again, they could have quit and up until the moment of his death, the doctor was offer an out and he refused to leave those suffering ...more
Aug 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Very readable nonfiction of an unsung hero of World War II: Dr. Sumner Jackson, a sureon from Maine, U.S.A., and family, who aided French Resistance when the Nazis occupied France. Dr. Jackson and his family helped with "escape lines"--a sort of underground railroad helping opponents of the Nazis escape Paris and using their house as "drop-box" for the Resistance, on Avenue Foch, where sinister agencies of the Nazis were headquartered. The book details these events, also the family's betrayal, h ...more
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully account of personal history. The author writes with humility so that you can comprehend the heroic resistance without being distracted by the full extent of the horrors they endured. Thank you Mr. Kershaw. We must never forget.
This book was very interesting to me as I have a link with the WWII heroine, Virginia Albert d' Loc, who's mentioned a number of times. She was from Dinard, France...a town that I have a personal "relationship" with. I'd heard of Virginia in 1997 and have been fascinated with her efforts of resistance during WWII ever since. This is a true story....
Zeb Kantrowitz
Jul 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-read
Image, you’re an American doctor, married to a Swiss national, and working in Paris in the 1930s. Life is good. This is Doctor Sumner Jackson. He was part of a group of Americans who volunteered for the British Medical Corp before the US entered the “Great War”. He met and fell in love with a Swiss nurse (Charlotte Sylvie Barrelet de Ricou) who worked with the French. The married after the war and returned to the States but, Toquette (as everyone called her) missed home and her family (she was o ...more
Sep 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wwii, read-in-rwanda
Occasionally in the beginning this drags a bit, and is busy with names I'm not familiar with (B-list Nazis and so on), but is generally very readable and interesting and really picks up in the second half. Some of the secondary anecdotes sound like they could be great books on their own. I found the idea of a poor Maine farmboy eventually becoming a wealthy Parisian and then a Resistance worker as interesting as the main story itself, though we're only given hints of that transition and what the ...more
Jim Ogle
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
We are asked to do so little as citizens of the United States. Only a small percentage of us are called to service on the front lines of the world. This is the story of one family-- half American/half Swiss-- in France as the Nazis invade. It tells how they join the resistance and the price they eventually pay for their work. What a remarkable generation of people who are all heroes.
Lauren Archer
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I feel like I missed so much learning in regards to WWII. I am so glad they are writing so much non-fiction and fiction about this part of the war. This was a great book, about an amazing family.
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding! Love everything I have read by Alex Kershaw!
Mal Warwick
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
If it’s true that “God is in the details,” wouldn’t it stand to reason that history can best be understood through the stories of the individual people who experienced it? It often seems that way, doesn’t it? Certainly, the reality of life in times past is far easier to get our arms around when we read about the lived experience of individuals rather than the kings, generals, presidents, and other muckity-mucks who tend to dominate the history books.

Avenue of Spies is a case in point. Despite al
Terri Wangard
Jun 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Germans’ bestial mindset boggles the imagination. Gestapo agents salivated to round up opponents of the Third Reich, Jews, and “terrorists” who resisted them. They hired French criminals to assist them, and these Frenchmen, plus the French Milice, thrived on repressing their countrymen. The years of World War II warrant the moniker The Dark Ages.

Sumner Jackson was an American physician who stayed in France because his Swiss wife did not living in the U.S. As Alex Kershaw frequently states, t

Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A Tale of Spies and Heroic Resistance to the Nazi Occupation of Paris

Sumner Jackson, a renowned surgeon, head of the American Hospital in Paris, hates what the Nazis are doing to his beloved Paris. An American, he grew to love Paris after marrying his Swiss wife, Toquette. They and their only child, Phillip want to do everything they can to aid the Allies.

Sumner uses his position in the hospital to smuggle British and French fighters to Spain and then to Britain. Toquette becomes involved in th
Melissa Lindsey
This one was a struggle for me. I'm fairly certain my 11th grade History teacher may have skipped World War II -- either that or there was a cute boy in the class. Either one are equal possibilities here. My own lack of background knowledge of the resistance in Nazi-occupied Paris, as well as my ignorance about much of World War II, put me at a significant disadvantage as I read. The author assumes his readers have a rather strong working knowledge of this time period. There were parts that felt ...more
Doug Phillips
May 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-ii
Having read numerous historical accounts of World War II and the corresponding years, it was a definite treat to read this account of the Jackson family and their story. It is clear that the author completed extensive research to complete this book, and we are all the better for his diligence and personal interviews with Philip Jackson and other survivors while they are still alive to tell their stories.

Mr. Kershaw weaves in just the right amount of historical data, while at the same time, pain
Aug 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
I had a hard time putting this book down. You definitely know that something bad is going to happen, but you are not sure exactly what and how. If I were in the Jackson family's shoes -- an American doctor and his family -- I believe I would have left Paris before the Nazi's got there. However, I am not sure even they knew what they were in for. And the main reason they stayed was that the Doctor's Swiss wife did not want to live in America, and they did not want to let the American Red Cross Ho ...more
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Alex Kershaw is the author of the widely acclaimed best sellers The Bedford Boys, The Longest Winter, The Few, The Liberator, and Escape from the Deep, as well as biographies of Jack London, Raoul Wallenberg and Robert Capa. His latest book is The First Wave: The D Day Warriors Who Led The Way to Victory in WWII. He lives in Savannah.

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“Parisians were starting to chafe against rationing and other restrictions despite their occupiers going to extraordinary lengths to foster good relations. German soldiers were not allowed to smoke or loosen their ties in public, buy cocaine in bars, go swimming in the Seine, sing or dance in the street,” 0 likes
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