Fighters in the Shadows

Robert Gildea

Longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, Fighters in the Shadows tells the story of the French Resistance – as it was, rather than how some choose to remember it.

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The story of the French Resistance is central to French identity, but it is a story built on myths. Not simply an effort to free the country from German occupation, it was part of a Europe-wide anti-fascist struggle, which included Spanish republicans, Italian and German anti-Nazis, communists, Jewish resisters and Christian rescuers. Robert Gildea returns to the testimonies of those involved, asking who they were, and what compelled them to take the terrible risks they did, bringing to the fore stories of the women resisters, whom history has neglected. Fighters in the Shadows is a vivid, gripping and entirely new account of one of the most compelling narratives of the Second World War.

Critic Reviews

A myth-stripping, monumental history.

John Lewis-Stempel, Sunday Express
Critic Reviews

Fascinating book...vivid and convincing history...often moving and illuminating...perhaps, in this thrilling story of anti-fascist solidarity between Polish Jews, French communists, Spanish republicans and German and Italian (and even Irish) anti-fascists, we can see the seeds of a possible new European identity.

Michael O'Loughlin, Irish Times
Critic Reviews

The French Resistance remains one of the great moral tests of the 20th century, raising essential and often troubling questions about how ordinary people behave and define themselves in extraordinarily demanding and dangerous circumstances. Read this fine book, and wonder anew where you might have fitted in the kaleidoscope of resistance, defiance, acquiescence and collaboration.

Ben Macintyre, The Times
Critic Reviews

Comprehensive, thoroughly researched book...this rich and dramatic book is an absolute must for anyone interested in the period.

Hanna Diamond, BBC History Magazine
Critic Reviews

A serious book that deserves to be taken seriously, both here, and more important, by historians across the channel.

Nicholas Shakespeare, Daily Telegraph
Critic Reviews

An important new book.


Robert Gildea is Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford. He specialises in nineteenth- and twentieth-century French and European History, with a particular focus on the Second World War. His previous work on France under the German Occupation, Marianne in Chains (2002) won the Wolfson History Prize. The Past in French History (1994) explored French collective memory and…

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