Les Parisiennes

Les Parisiennes

How the Women of Paris Lived, Loved, and Died Under Nazi Occupation

Book - 2016
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"Paris in the 1940s was a place of fear, power, aggression, courage, deprivation, and secrets. During the occupation, the swastika flew from the Eiffel Tower and danger lurked on every corner. While Parisian men were either fighting at the front or captured and forced to work in German factories, the women of Paris were left behind where they would come face to face with the German conquerors on a daily basis, as waitresses, shop assistants, or wives and mothers, increasingly desperate to find food to feed their families as hunger became part of everyday life. When the Nazis and the puppet Vichy regime began rounding up Jews to ship east to concentration camps, the full horror of the war was brought home and the choice between collaboration and resistance became unavoidable. Sebba focuses on the role of women, many of whom faced life-and-death decisions every day. After the war ended, there would be a fierce settling of accounts between those who made peace with or, worse, helped the occupiers and those who fought the Nazis in any way they could"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 2016.
Edition: First U.S. edition.
ISBN: 9781250136015
Characteristics: xxii, 457 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates :,illustrations (some colour), map ;,25 cm.


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A beautifully written but heart rending Herstory. There is a lot of reference to French characters with whom I am unfamiliar, so over time this may only appeal to a limited audience. Nevertheless I am glad that I read this book and I will especially remember the aftermath of the suffering when Paris negated the suffering of so many of its women, much like what we did to Vietnam war vets after the horrors they suffered in their war.

Oct 21, 2018

This book is journalism, not history or analysis. The author's main focus is on upper class women. It does show the high degree of collaboration amongst the French during the German occupation.

Jun 21, 2017

Journalist Ann Sebba takes on the ambitious task of documenting women of many persuasions during the Occupation of Paris in WW II. Her writing tells of choices made, knowing or unknowingly, too collaborate or resist, and the importance of the fashion industry to the city and the world once the war ends. Interesting.

Feb 01, 2017

Sebba has written a comprehensive social history of Parisian women from 1939 through 1949 in three parts -- War, Liberation, and Reconstruction. From high society women to working prostitutes, the author has detailed the stories of Nazi victims, Nazi collaborators, and those between the two extremes. As Sebba writes in the final paragraph, "But surviving in occupied Paris for many women demanded some sort of choice, some sort of decision, about how they would accommodate living with the Germans. It is not for the rest of us to judge but, with imagination, we can try to understand." Maps, illustrations, extensive notes, and a bibliography detail the amount of care and work that went into this book.

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