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The Cruel Victory The French Resistance and the Battle for the Vercors 1944

by Paddy Ashdown

Biography / Autobiography History

The Cruel Victory The French Resistance and the Battle for the Vercors 1944 Synopsis

From best-selling author of 'A Brilliant Little Operation', winner of the British Army Military History prize and the Royal marines History prize for 2013, comes the long neglected D-Day story of the Resistance uprising and subsequent massacre on the Vercors massif - the largest action by the French Resistance during the Second World War. In early 1941, three separate groups of plotters - one military, one political, one intellectual - began to organise and plan on and around the forbidding mountainous plateau near Grenoble - the Vercors. The aims of the groups were the same: to hasten the departure of the German occupiers; to restore the pride of France after its fall and the humiliations of the puppet Vichy government which followed; and to build a new France. The overwhelming desire to get rid of the Germans would unite them. Their different views of the France they hoped for in the future would divide them. Over the next three years these sparks of resistance would grow to challenge the might of the hated German occupiers. As the Allied troops stormed the D-Day beaches, the Vercors rose up to fight the Nazis in a planned rearguard action. It was to prove not only the largest Resistance action of the entire war but also, in the severity of the German response, the most brutal crushing of resistance forces in Western Europe. For the men and women of Vercors, aided and abetted by the Free French forces of General de Gaulle and SOE operatives from London, the events on the Vercors took them on a journey from early idealism through hope, misjudgement, folly, despair, sacrifice and slaughter to a kind of cruel victory. The tragedy drew the attention of those at the highest level of the Allied war effort and placed the Vercors deep into the heart of the history of modern France in a way which resonates still in the country's daily life and politics. Long overlooked by English language histories, this magnificent book sets the story in the context of D-Day, the muddle of politics and many misjudgements of D-Day planners in both London and Algiers, and - most importantly - it gives voice to the many Maquisards fighters who fought to gain a voice in their country's future.

The Good Book Guide Review

In 1941 the French resistance forces were already planning what they should do when the Allies arrived to liberate their country. Three groups of insurgents were involved, each with a different agenda, but united in their hatred of the German occupiers. Because of this hatred they were prepared to ignore their differences – differences that would later divide them. They became known as the Vercors, after the mountainous region near Grenoble where they came together. Their story, meticulously researched by former commando and later Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown, shows how they planned to divert the Germans from the Normandy beaches in 1944, only to have the authorities bungle the operation in a monumental way. Ashdown uncovers a tale of intrigue, terror and awe-inspiring heroism and reveals the terrible retribution wrought upon the French heroes by the retreating Germans. The story has largely gone untold in Britain until now.

The Cruel Victory The French Resistance and the Battle for the Vercors 1944 Press Reviews

Praise for A Brilliant Little Operation:

 

'The story of Operation Frankton is an extreme example of a plan brilliantly conceived and badly botched. The ten commandos who made a secret canoe raid in 1942 on German merchant ships have become icons of British wartime derring-do.
The Times

'No doubt many more books will be written about the war, but I hope this becomes a model for them since, though the heroism of our boys is stirring stuff, history only makes real sense if you can see it from all sides.'
Daily Telegraph

'Paddy Ashdown has sifted the facts from the myths to write a fascinating and very personal account.'
Independent

'It moves at the pace of a thriller and it's real'
Nick Ferrari, Sunday Express

'Ashdown's insights and his extensive research in an impressive range of archives will ensure that yet another work on the subject will not be required in the foreseeable future.'
Times Literary Supplement

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780007520800
Publication date: 05/06/2014
Publisher: William Collins an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780007520800
Publication date: 5th June 2014
Author: Paddy Ashdown
Publisher: William Collins an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 496 pages
Genres: Biography / Autobiography, History,
Categories: Second World War, War & defence operations, European history, 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000,

About Paddy Ashdown

After service as a Royal Marine and as an intelligence officer for the UK security services, Paddy Ashdown was a Member of Parliament for Yeovil from 1983 to 2001, and leader of the Liberal Democrats from 1988 until 1999. Later he was the international High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2002 to 2006. He was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George in 2006.

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