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The Saboteur: The Aristocrat Who Became France's Most Daring Anti-Nazi Commando

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,214 ratings  ·  166 reviews

In the tradition of Agent Zigzag comes this breathtaking biography, as fast-paced and emotionally intuitive as the very best spy thrillers, which illuminates an unsung hero of the French Resistance during World War II—Robert de La Rochefoucald, an aristocrat turned anti-Nazi saboteur—and his daring exploits as a résistant trained by Britain’s Special Operations Executiv

Kindle Edition, 309 pages
Published December 5th 2017 by Harper
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Start your review of The Saboteur: The Aristocrat Who Became France's Most Daring Anti-Nazi Commando
Author Paul Kix’s extensive research into the life and times of French aristocrat Robert de La Rochefoucauld provides a close up look at the activities of the members of the French resistance during World War II.

When the Nazis invaded France, Rochefoucauld was eighteen years old. He had lived a privileged and comfortable life. But when his father was arrested and imprisoned, he decided that it was time to take action against the invaders. He made his way to England where he was trained alongside
Steven Z.
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is very rare when a work of non-fiction approaches a work of fiction. For a book to tell a story that is true, but keeps you riveted as if it were a spy novel, is special. Such is the case with Paul Kix’s first book, THE SABOTEUR: THE ARISTOCRAT WHO BECAME FRANCE’S MOST DARING ANTI-NAZI COMMANDO which tells the story and exploits of Robert de Rochefoucauld, the scion of a rich French family who at the age of sixteen escaped to England, to be educated as a soldier, spy, and safe cracker in the ...more
Charles J
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of a man—Robert de La Rouchefoucauld, scion of one of the oldest noble families in France, who lived from 1923 to 2012. He led a life in full; the focus of this book is his three years fighting against the Germans in France, as a résistant. It is a tale of bravery and derring-do, and it is gripping. But even more, it is terribly sad, because reading about this past makes us realize how masculinity and duty as exemplified by La Rouchefoucauld are no longer celebrated, but rather ...more
Katherine Reay
Okay... I'm not really finished and will come back to this book, but my son borrowed it -- and if my son wants to read a book, it's his. ;)

So review to come someday when I get it back...
Peter Tillman
A remarkable story, although not quite as good as I had hoped. Still, worth reading, especially for French Resistance and WW2 history buffs. 3.4 stars

Robert de La Rochefoucauld was an impulsive youth, and got into the Resistance almost by accident, at age 18. He turned out to be very good at escape, evasion, and sabotage, especially after his SOE training in Britain, and had some remarkable adventures, detailed in the NYT review cited below.

In later life, he was a stylish and well-preserved man
This is the story of Robert de La Rochefoucauld. It opens with an introduction to Robert and states that it is a work of "narrative non fiction". When the war starts Robert, a teenager, escapes to the UK via the Pyrenees and Spain and in the company of some UK pilots for a time. There he is recruited by SOE and trained in killing and sabotage. He is parachuted back into France in 1943.

The book covers the period of Robert's war in the main. The author has done a great deal of research on his subj
Amy Layton
If you're feeling upset about the general state of the world right now, I'd definitely recommend this book to you.  If you like WW2 nonfiction, I'd definitely recommend this book to you.  If you like French histories and biographies, I'd definitely recommend this book to you.  If you........okay.  I'd recommend this book to everybody.  

Let's begin just with the factual stuff: this biography is well-researched, to the point of Kix reaching out to de la Rochefoucald's surviving family and Skyping
Kathryn Bashaar
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My husband loves war stories, and I bought this book for him as an Easter gift. When he finished it, he said he thought I might enjoy it, I don't usually enjoy this kind of story, but I gave it a try and, to my surprise, found it very engrossing.
It is a biography of a member of the French resistance during World War Two. Aristocratic young Robert de la Rochefoucauld was only a teenager when the Germans invaded France. He was filled with a passion to fight them, and eventually found his way to t
Elizabeth Theiss
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france, history
During the World War II Nazi occupation of France, some two percent of the French population were actively engaged in resistance. Robert de la Rochefoucauld was one of the most remarkable of the resistants. Denounced for his antipathy to the occupiers, at the age of nineteen Rochefoucauld fled to Britain and, with the approval of General de Gaulle himself, trained as a saboteur. After parachuting into France, he worked with secret cells of resisters to blow up factories, bridges, and railroads, ...more
Mal Warwick
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
If you'd visited France anytime during the decades following World War II, you might have gotten the impression that all forty million French men and women had worked for the Resistance. In fact, studies have shown that only about two percent of the population (perhaps three quarters of a million) did so, and most of them in the closing months of the war. By contrast, an estimated twenty percent of France's people collaborated with the Nazis. Yet some were indeed heroes. And one of the most inte ...more
Bev Simpson
I was attracted to this book because of a long time interest in resistance movements during WW2. My Dad gave me one about Norwegian resistors when I was a teenager. We have a Norwegian heritage and I was enthralled with the stories of their exploits. I am always amazed at the courage saboteurs had in dealing with the enemy, never knowing when torture or death might result, and not knowing how long the war would last, or who might "win". I am particularly interested in female resistors, always wo ...more
One of the most interesting aspects of the book is the lead-in: Robert de la Rochefoucauld's testimony in support of a Frenchman who was on trial for signing the papers which sent many Jews from France to concentration camps--but who also, according to de la Rochefoucauld's testimony, warned many beforehand that the deportations were coming so that they had a chance to flee and join the Resistance. This whole biography is full of daring escapes and heroic bravado . . . but also the painful losse ...more
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One recent night as I was driving home from a late stint at work, I listened to one of my favorite programs on a local radio station that interviews all sorts of interesting people about all sorts of interesting topics. And I was so transfixed by the interview, I don't even remember the drive home.

What I do remember is pulling into the garage and sitting there in the car still listening until the program was over...and then practically running into the house, starting up the computer, logging i
Thelma Fountain
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received this book in a goodreads giveaway. This is a really good first person account of life during WWll in France. This was a fascinating story about serving in the French resistance. I love reading true life accounts and this one did not disappoint. recommend.
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
Fascinating look at a noble French resistance hero. Biography & Memoir
The cover of this book promises a biography of Robert de La Rochefoucauld, the “Saboteur” of the title, that is “as fast-paced and emotionally intuitive as the very best spy thrillers” --- and it delivers just that. Paul Kix’s debut nonfiction account is based on La Rochefoucauld’s own memoir, but he has supplemented it with careful research to broaden the focus and provide context for his subject’s remarkable story. In so doing, he also has made it accessible to readers who may not be totally f ...more
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing story of bravery, courage, physical suffering and endurance. Robert LaRochefoucauld, teenage scion of an illustrious family, could not bear to have such evil visited upon his beloved country, and, lying about his age, went off to join DeGaulle’s resistance. He didn’t actually connect with DeGaulle in England, but was rigorously trained in amazing skills by the British in order to parachute into France, create resistance cells, and engage in daring acts of sabbotage. Twice caught and impr ...more
Sep 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Robert de La Rochefoucauld was truly a saboteur. In his late teens and early twenties, Robert, who was born into wealth, became a passionate resistant against the Nazis who invaded France. He was eager to learn, was taught by the British and time and time again carried out dangerous missions and sabotage. He was caught many times, tortured for months, and escaped death. I found myself rooting for him and applauding his incredible courage and willpower. Reads as an exciting story that keeps you i ...more
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has its ups and downs but it's worth reading through the duller parts for the exciting scenes. Robert de La Rochefoucauld was 16 when the Germans invaded France. From his family's chateau, all but his father (who was serving in the French army) watched the bombing of nearby Soissons. With older brother Henri at the wheel, the children escaped to their grandmother's chateau in the South of France until the fighting ended and occupation was complete, their mother eventually catching up w ...more
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
At times, this is a riveting tale. The author creates incredible suspense when he writes about Robert’s missions and escapes. At other times, the narrative is dry and overwritten. However, his subject is such an extraordinary man that the book succeeds.
One is struck by the luck of our hero as he escapes time and time again to return to the field of battle. Yes, he had luck, but he also had unbelievable courage in the face of terrible odds. This comes through loud and clear many times. Particula
Feb 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing in this historic biography is fantastic and the story is a thrill. Unfortunately there are too many blank spaces in the subject’s character to make for a truly compelling tale. We learn amazing things about what this man did during WWII, but little about the man himself. I assume the passage of time is to blame; any contemporaries who could shine a light on his personality, motivations, fears, and hopes are all dead and gone. Although he wrote a memoir, that must have left much of hi ...more
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Well done.

The writing was so good, you forget you're reading and get wrapped into the war torn plots, plans and danger of the time. Told from the perspective of the French and a resistance member. There were even more atrocities than I remember learning about in my history classes. I liked the fact that there were not gory descriptions of the violence, but rather a more factual telling that did not lose the emotion of the situation.

You are taken behind enemy lines and within the plots, along wi
Feb 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty entertaining though the author sprinkles mistakes throughout that are distracting. Paul Kix is a cool name though and I'm impressed he has time to write while running his cereal empire.
Mary  Mendoza
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-ll, france
Superbly researched. A riveting read. Only one minor complaint: wish they had included a map of WWII era France in the front pages.
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just about gave up on the book in the first 80 pages. The description of the German invasion of France and how a young aristocrat named Robert de la Rouchfoucauld finally reaching London to join the Free France movement seemed fairly routine WW2 stuff.

The he parachutes into France to help with the resistance and I could not put the book down. The story is nothing short of incredible. He was captured and escaped three times from the Germans, once on the way to his execution. He gets back to Lon
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book because it is a great story and is well told. This certainly qualifies as a page-turner because the narrative is so exciting and compelling. I read it in a couple days. La Rochefoucauld decides to risk his life fighting against the corruption of Fascism and for the traditions of self-government and liberty. He executes daring raids, is captured and avoids execution several times. What a great story!

However, the book is marred by two flaws. First, there is no index. I c
Nicholas Lefevre
I've long been a fan of the "Secret War" of WWII with the stories of the secret agents, code breakers, and deceivers making life difficult for my favorite villains, the Nazis. This is the story of Robert de La Rochefoucald, a young French aristocrat who made his way to England through Nazi occupied France, was trained in a new covert service, the Special Operations Executive or SOE, and returned to France to train and lead saboteurs and resistance fighters.

In its broad strokes it is a thrilling
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent biography of Robert de La Rochefoucauld, a French aristocrat, who at nineteen joins the French/British resistance by becoming a fearless saboteur with the secret British group, Special Operations Executive (SOE). Robert is inspired by de Gaulle who is encouraging Frenchmen to join the Free France movement. Robert travels to England via Spain in 1942 to be trained as a highly specialized SOE agent. He is trained by Eric Piquet-Wicks.
This is an excellent account of the various resist
Lisa  Carlson
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Bookpage
Shelves: biography
Deputy Editor at ESPN the Magazine, Author Paul Kix introduces spy Robert de La Rochefoucauld (Roash-foo-coe) in his first book The Saboteur. This book is a testament to the resilient human spirit, the atrocities the Germans inflicted in wartime and a tie into another historical achievement; Churchhill's SOE-Special Operations Executive, aka the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. As we know the SOE was brilliant; one of their men created a knife which could pierce the skin, leaving no mark but c ...more
Linda Humberstone
This is a true story about how a patriotic teenager, Robert de La Rochefoucauld, who wanted to fight against the Nazis, gradually became a formidable resistant fighter and eventually trained others on how to create mayhem by sabotaging Nazi strongholds. He suffered torture when captured but managed to escape on three different occasions and even then still carried on fighting against the Nazis with resistance groups in France. His exploits were truly outstanding when his decisions usually had to ...more
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