I am a rabid listener of podcasts. I love me some politics, some history, and even a few fictional tales told as radio dramas. Rarely, however, do I listen to a podcast with such rapt attention as I did an interview with Anne Sebba on History Hit, by Dan Snow.
The woman was intelligent, articulate, and was speaking of things of which I had no knowledge – but in which I had great interest. Does that not sound like a perfect storm of curiosity and intrigue? I bought her book from Amazon that very day. Over the following two months I set it on different stacks in my room, admiring the cover, wishing I had time to read, deciding to give it away for Christmas, but then remembering that I would have to read it before I gave it away. That’s why I read it in a total of four sittings, two of which were spent under the cheery, twinkling lights of a Christmas tree.
(Side Note: 200 pages of Nazis on Christmas Eve is not a recommended procedure for anyone, and it ought not be attempted at home.)
I would never recommend reading a book on any of the highly deplorable acts of WWII in so short a span, but I couldn’t put it down.
And I was in a time crunch.
But also, I couldn’t put it down. Bravo, Anne Sebba, bravo.
The book is thoughtful. It presents multiple sides of complicated issues, and while the author’s biases do occasionally color the pages, for the most part, she remains as pragmatic and objective as one can be while discussing such emotional material.
The book shows heartbreak side-by-side with triumph, glamor with addiction, heroism with anonymity, and complexity with principle.
This book made me weep.
This book made me laugh.
This book made me want to drink champagne and go to France.
This book made me drool over Christian Dior and his fashion line as he breathed life back into Paris when the war was won.
This book made me proud of the American soldiers who liberated Europe from Nazi tyranny, but did not allow me to look on them with rose-colored glasses.
This book made me shudder to think what would have become of that old and cultured land had the Americans stayed home, and the Russians ran the show in stead.
This book made me cry out for the women of France and yell in pride at how they lived.
This book made me think about principle, about how I live, how I have lived, and how I wish to live.
I would recommend this book to anyone over the age of 17.
Go. Buy it. Read it. Give it five stars on Goodreads.com, like I did.
Then go about your life, and think differently.