Ronald C. Rosbottom
Youth in France Confront the Germans, 1940-1945
This event includes a book signing
August 13, 2019
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store welcomes acclaimed writer and educator RONALD C. ROSBOTTOM—Winifred L. Arms Professor in the Arts and Humanities at Amherst College—for a discussion of his new book, Sudden Courage: Youth in France Confront the Germans, 1940-1945.
About Sudden Courage
The author of the acclaimed When Paris Went Dark, longlisted for the National Book Award, returns to World War II once again to tell the incredible story of the youngest members of the French Resistance—many only teenagers—who waged a hidden war against the Nazi occupiers and their collaborators in Paris and across France.
On June 14, 1940, German tanks rolled into Paris. Eight days later, France accepted a humiliating defeat and foreign occupation. Most citizens adapted and many even allied themselves with the new fascist leadership. Yet others refused to capitulate; in answer to the ruthless violence, shortages, and curfews imposed by the Nazis, a resistance arose. Among this shadow army were Jews, immigrants, communists, workers, writers, police officers, shop owners, including many young people in their teens and twenties.
Ronald Rosbottom tells the riveting story of how those brave and untested youth went from learning about literature to learning the art of sabotage, from figuring out how to solve an equation to how to stealthily avoid patrols, from passing notes to stealing secrets—and even learning how to kill. The standard challenges of adolescence were amplified and distorted.
Sudden Courage brilliantly evokes this dark and uncertain period, from the beginning of the occupation until the last German left French soil. A chronicle of youthful sacrifice and courage in the face of evil, it is a story that holds relevance for our own time, when democratic nations are once again under threat from rising nativism and authoritarianism. Beyond that, it is a riveting investigation about what it means for a young person to come of age under unpredictable and violent circumstances.
Praise for Sudden Courage
“Ron Rosbottom brings his demonstrated mastery of the German occupation of France, plus decades as a college professor, to vividly revise our understanding of the French resistance, and how dependent it was upon the energy and moral courage of very young women and men.” —Joseph J. Ellis, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of American Dialogue: The Founders and Us
“Active resistance to the Nazi occupation of France in 1940 to 1944 often depended on young people. The adolescents among them brought special assets to dangerous actions and faced stresses particular to their age. Ronald Rosbottom explores these matters sensitively and vividly. . . . A thoughtful and stirring book.” —Robert Paxton, professor emeritus of history, Columbia University, and author of Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order
“Captivating. . . a moving chronicle of youthful courage and sacrifice.” —Publishers Weekly
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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