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This is a book for anyone with a serious interest in WWII and, more specifically, the French Resistance, and the SOE. In addition to the three main characters, the spy, the traitor, and the Nazi, there is a large and diverse cast of characters with various (and sometimes shifting) allegiances, roles, and relationships. This means that the book requires more concentration than many, but it is concentration amply rewarded, from the beginning to the epilogue which lingers in my mind for what it says about people and organisations during war and peace. Not only is the story compelling and often exciting, it is historically significant. As Ashdown points out, there is no element of moral judgement in his book yet, looking beyond the events and characters depicted here, readers must inevitably try to imagine what they might have done in that time and place: how would they decide between their own survival, the safety of loved ones, love for country and, especially in the case of the French, liberty. Paddy Ashdown is a wonderful writer and story teller, and his he is the perfect narrator for this book. He has excellent French, essential in a book with so many French names. And – praise be - he is one of few English narrators who do not mispronounce Roosevelt. The book is a triumph and I have already started re-reading it.
Meticulously researched and interesting main characters, but I got the impression the writer really tried to spin it out for as long as possible; it starts brilliantly but the pace kind of drops off after a while. There were so many superfluous characters who played minor roles it was difficult to keep track - and at the end when he explained what became of them all after the war I'd forgotten who most of them were and what they'd done.
The amount of detail reflects the huge amount of research which was obviously done for this book, but I would have preferred a shorter version.