The Test Of Courage: Michel Thomas: A Biography Of The Holocaust Survivor And Nazi-Hunter By Christopher Robbins

The Test Of Courage: Michel Thomas: A Biography Of The Holocaust Survivor And Nazi-Hunter By Christopher Robbins

by Christopher Robbins
     
 

The story of Michel Thomas reads like a thriller in which adventure and heartbreak combine to produce a unique form of wisdom. Until his death in 2005, he taught languages to ghetto kids, heads of industry and movie stars in a matter of days, succeeding even with people who considered themselves hopeless linguists. To those who have been taught by him, he seemed to

Overview

The story of Michel Thomas reads like a thriller in which adventure and heartbreak combine to produce a unique form of wisdom. Until his death in 2005, he taught languages to ghetto kids, heads of industry and movie stars in a matter of days, succeeding even with people who considered themselves hopeless linguists. To those who have been taught by him, he seemed to be a miracle worker with a magical gift for unlocking the secret powers of the mind.

This unique understanding was gained under extreme circumstances. Stateless in Vichy France at the beginning of the Second World War, he was incarcerated and starved in a concentration camp at the foot of the Pyrenees. Forced into slave labour in a coal mine in Provence, he avoided being sent to Auschwitz by hiding within the confines of a deportation camp for six weeks.

He escaped death to join the Secret Army of the Resistance. He was arrested and interrogated by Klaus Barbie, Butcher of Lyon, whom he deceived into releasing him, and was later re-arrested by the French Gestapo and tortured. He held out by entering a psychological state in which he no longer registered pain and after six hours of torture, his tormentors threw him into a cell and he survived to re-join the Resistance. After the Allies invaded France he joined the American forces, fought his way into Germany and was with the troops who liberated Dachau. He personally interrogated the camp’s hangman and oversaw his handwritten confession.

At the end of the war he became a Nazi-hunter. Working for American Counter Intelligence he posed as a Nazi himself to infiltrate and expose underground networks of SS men dedicated to the return of a Fourth Reich.

In spite of the fact that his entire family had been murdered in Auschwitz, and many close friends killed in combat, at the very end of the war he staged an elaborate gala evening in Munich which he called a Reconciliation Concert. Using German musicians, and in defiance of strict Allied non-fraternisation laws, he brought friend and foe together in the belief that there had to be a different and better future.

Author Christopher Robbins has dug deep to explore and substantiate the details of the Michel Thomas story. He has authenticated every episode through camp records, Vichy documents, Resistance papers, US Army reports and hundreds of hours of interviews with this extraordinary man. The result is one of the most inspirational stories of the 20th century.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781908556073
Publisher:
Apostrophe Books Ltd
Publication date:
01/23/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
528
Sales rank:
171,583
File size:
771 KB

Read an Excerpt

As a natural sceptic I would not have been inclined to believe the biography of Michel Thomas if I had not been told about him by someone whose own wartime experiences were beyond doubt. My friend spoke of a man who had endured hell in the early years of the war through internment in concentration and deportation camps in France, but who had refused to become a victim. He had escaped to fight with the Résistance, suffered further imprisonment and torture, and then fought with the US Army. Later, in the years directly after the war, he hunted Nazis and war criminals as a special agent with American Counter Intelligence, posing in one elaborate operation as a high-ranking Nazi intelligence officer. It was a life that seemed as fascinating as it was unlikely.

Meet the Author

"Christopher Robbins is the author of six non-fiction books: The Test of Courage is the biography of Michel Thomas, concentration camp survivor, French Resistance fighter, and Nazi hunter; The Empress of Ireland is a memoir of his friendship with the Irish film director Brian Desmond Hurst, and won the Saga Aware for Wit; the travelogue, In Search of Kazakhstan, was short-listed for the Author’s Club Travel Award in the U.K., and the Geographica award in the U.S. The Ravens, a companion to Air America, charts the history of the men who flew in the secret air war in Laos. Christopher Robbins was born on 19 November 1946, in Bristol, where he grew up and attended Taunton School. A gifted schoolboy, he started working for free on the Evening World and then the Evening Post. At the age of sixteen he won a talent competition and become "junior jazz critic" for The Daily Telegraph another Bristol local newspaper. He later specialized in investigative work – especially about the CIA – writing pieces for the Observer Magazine. Christopher Robbins lives in London and France."

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >