Code Name Christiane Clouet: A Woman in the French Resistance / Edition 1

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Overview

In 1943 Claire Chevrillon (code named Christiane Clouet) became head of the Code Service in Paris for General de Gaulle's Delegation and served as the main link in the lines of communication flowing between the Free French Government in London and the Delegation (Provisional Government) in France. It was Chevrillon and her team who coded many of the telegrams in Is Paris Burning? Until now, little has been published about this unglamorous but vital aspect of the French Resistance.

Chevrillon's memoir gives abundant detail about what daily life was like for the French elite during the German occupation. Her father, a scholar and literary critic who had been raised by his celebrated uncle, philosopher-historian Hippolyte Taine, put her in contact with the upper circles of French culture. Her mother, who was from a large, assimilated Jewish family, gave her first-hand knowledge of the persecution of French Jews. Her story vividly portrays the wartime experience of private lives and public events, including the tedious backroom work of the Resistance and four months she spent captive in Paris's dreaded Fresnes prison.

The way Chevrillon tells her story is almost as remarkable as the story itself. Evenhandedly and without embellishment, she relives the days of the occupation, the arrest and deportation of her prominent Jewish relatives, her own role in the underground network, and the eventual liberation of France. The straightforward, even brisk, style with which Chevrillon writes, together with the breadth of her experience and her extensive contacts in French society, give a perspective not often encountered in stories of the World War II underground.

Perhaps most important, Chevrillon demonstrates that heroism can take quiet, hidden forms.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A witness to the bleak fate of French Jewry in Nazi-dominated France, this remarkable author recounts her experiences from 1939 to 1945 in a personal though emotionally reserved way that makes her family's tragedies particularly poignant. Her parents were upper-class, assimilated Jews; her father, Andr Chevrillon, was a member of the French Academy, a man Edith Wharton called ``the first literary critic in France.'' An English teacher in Paris when war broke out, Claire gives abundant details about the first days of the occupation, when France became a nation divided between the Ptainists and those less willing to accommodate Hitler's designs. In 1942, as repressive laws limited Jewish freedom (Claire's mother was effectively imprisoned by her fear of leaving home wearing the yellow star), as her brother-in-law languished in a POW camp and her cousins were persecuted and eventually deported, Chevrillon joined the resistance, first in air operations and then in the code service, where she encoded and decoded messages between the free French government in London and de Gaulle's Paris delegation. Chevrillon, who had contact with some of the most prominent members of the resistance, was betrayed in 1943 and spent four harrowing months in prison. The author's goal was ``to set forward the facts... not to analyze myself or my characters.'' But her story, told without elaboration, is as dramatic and compelling as any fiction. Illustrations. (May)
Library Journal
While several classic memoirs of the Resistance exist, relatively few have been written by women. Chevrillon, the scion of a prominent literary family, was head of the Code Service for Paris and the main link in the lines of communication between the Resistance and the Free French government in London. It was Chevrillon and her team who coded many of the telegrams published in Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre's Is Paris Burning? Highly readable and moving, her memoirs recount in vivid detail the hardships of living under occupation, the deportation of her Jewish relatives, and the difficulties of life in prison, where she spent four months. Chevrillon's empathy for her compatriots and her sensitive appreciation of the simple pleasures of life in the midst of war make this an inspirational and enlightening story. This book should appeal not only to scholars of French and women's history but also to general readers interested in accounts of the war years.Marie Marmo Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., N.J.
Booknews
Chevrillon was the head of the Code Service in Paris for General de Gaulle's Delegation and served as the main communication link between the Free French Government in London and the Provisional Government in France. Her memoir gives a picture of daily life for the French elite under German occupation, and recounts the arrest and deportation of her Jewish relatives, her role in the underground network, her captivity in Paris' Fresnes prison, and the liberation of France. Includes b&w photos. Paper edition unseen, $14.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR booknews.com
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780890966297
  • Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
  • Publication date: 3/27/2009
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

After the war, CLAIRE CHEVRILLON returned to teaching both in Paris and abroad. She later served as director of the French Cultural Center in Fez and the French Library in Tunis. She is now retired and currently living in Paris.JANE KIELTY STOTT is a writer, researcher, and public policy advocate who lives in Austin, Texas.

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