Book info

Is Paris Burning? (2000)

Is Paris Burning? (2000)
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Rating
4.11 of 5 Votes: 4
ISBN
0785812466 (ISBN13: 9780785812463)
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English
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booksales
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Is Paris Burning? (2000)
Is Paris Burning? (2000)

About book: Is Paris Burning? should probably get only 2 Stars because this was not a serious fight in the big scheme of maneuver. The Jewish Uprising in Warsaw in 1943 and the Polish fight in Warsaw a year later were more serious fights with consequences and lasted far longer. The Paris uprising sputtered for a few days before the French 2nd Armored Division and the US 4th Infantry Division made their entry into the city. But Mr Collins and Mr Lapierre get 4.5 Baccarat crystal Stars for packing this account with drama, excitement and interesting little tidbits. You get your money’s worth from these two, every chapter greets you with irony, tragedy, comedy, pathos or joy in a fast-paced tale.The Allies did not want to go to Paris for a simple reason, once they took Paris they would have to feed and fuel the city, taking valuable resources away from the fighting forces. The Allies (except the French of course) intended to dash past Paris and get across the Rhine into Germany. Eisenhower and the boys thought the Germans would fall back from Paris and the city could be taken later. Good strategy but totally unrealistic. There was no way in heck the French, especially, Gen DeGaulle would allow Paris to be bypassed. DeGaulle has a simple reason, he wants to liberate Paris before the very strong communist Resistance forces in the city can do it. He has a political objective, not a tactical one.This book tells a great story of how the Allies were forced to take Paris, how the French threatened to pull their forces out and go it alone, who the key players were in this event. The real saviors of Paris in the book are the German commander of Paris and a member of the French Resistance. Collins and Lapierre tell the story in their unique way. You follow members of each side of the conflict, each service, the civilians, families, famous persons and regular folks. Some happy endings, some tragic ones, each gives you a feel for what it was like to be there.On the first day of the Paris uprising, the Resistance takes over various buildings throughout Paris. The Germans counterattack in Neuilly and retake the building. Survivors are escaping into the sewers below the building, carrying some wounded:Charles Caillette, the sharpshooter, carried Henri Guérin, a World War I veteran whose wooden leg had been shot away by a fragment from a tank shell. Looking at it, Guérin had remarked, “Thank God, they always shoot the same one.”Speed was the key. Hitler wanted Paris defended or destroyed. If he couldn’t have Paris, then nobody would. All the bridges and structures in Paris are mined and ready for demolition. Hitler wanted Paris to look like Stalingrad or Warsaw if he lost. The Allies were 122 miles to the west, two SS Divisions were 188 miles to the north. All racing to Paris and whoever got there first would determine the course of the battle. The German commander was willing to surrender Paris if the Allies got there but he would have to fight if the Panzers got there first.All along the three advancing columns of the 2nd Armored, tough and costly bottlenecks like Toussus-le-Noble slowed progress. On each of the division’s lines of advance, the country ahead now flattened out into a network of villages and suburbs laced with intersecting crossroads, each offering the Germans an ideal emplacement for an antitank gun. In their rush to batter their way to Paris, the men of the 2nd Armored frequently tried to smash head on at those guns instead of nipping them out with infantry. It was a tactic that saved time. But it left behind each advancing column a sad and growing trail of blackened vehicles.tBut time above all had to be saved this gray August day. In each column, relentless and unforgiving, the order was “Faster, faster.” Rounding a curve just past the river Bièvre, Private Georges Simonin, leading a platoon of tanks in his Sherman Cyclone, saw five wounded Germans sprawled on the highway before his treads. One, frantically working the pavement with his elbows tried to drag himself away. Simonin instinctively took his foot off the accelerator. As he did, he heard in his earphones the angry voice of his platoon commander crying, “Cyclone, nom de Dieu, get going!” Simonin shuddered, closed his eyes, and stamped on his accelerator.The book is filled with great little vignettes, here are a couple from the Americans approaching Paris: But of all the experiences along their route, nothing stood out more for these men than the sheer emotional impact of the hundreds of thousands of exultant, overwhelmingly grateful Parisians swarming over them. Frank Burk, of Jackson, Mississippi, submerged in a sea of people, thought it was “without a doubt, the happiest scene the world has ever known. Burk reckoned there were “fifteen solid miles of cheering, deliriously people waiting to shake your hand, to kiss you, to shower you with food and wine.”A beautiful girl threw her arms around code clerk Brice Rhyne and sobbed, “We waited for you for four years.”tThe precise Virginian said, “But the United States has only been in the war three years.”t“So what?” answered the girl, “We knew you’d come anyway!”There are many stories from the French forces, sons calling their families from the outskirts of Paris and letting them know they would be there shortly. Some make it, some don’t. The authors keep you waiting to the last moment.On the negative side, I got plenty sick of hearing how “France depended on DeGaulle”, how the “fate of France hung on DeGaulle’s shoulders”…etc. I also tired of hearing about how beautiful Paris is, how terrible if Paris’ structures were damaged or destroyed. Or how the communists thought a liberated Paris would be worth 200,000 dead (preferably not communists). There is some repetition…the battle only lasts 6 days after all.It was a bit frustrating to see DeGaulle claim the credit for liberating Paris but the French 2nd Armored Division did their fair share of the fighting. Eisenhower recognized DeGaulle and the French had to liberate Paris as soon as it could be done. Ike acquiesced and lent his support. From my point of view, America owes its freedom to French support during the Revolutionary War -- we repaid our debt in full at Normandy and again here in Paris. We don’t owe them anything anymore. Recommended reading!!

Is Paris Burning? is one of the better histories of the liberation of France. It reads well and not in the stilted way many historians follow. Collins and Dominique LaPierre have put together a history that follows some of the participants on both sides and that makes it more personal and interesting. It gives the human side of the war and does not depend on troop movements and numbers to tell the story. Adolph Hitler had ordered Paris leveled and its bridges bombed. He continually asked "Is Paris Burning?" How Paris avoided being burned to the ground the the world losing all the beautiful history and architecture of the Louvre, Palais du Luxembourg, Eiffel Tower and its bridges may surprise some readers. How sharpshooters missed killing Charles deGaulle when he returned to Paris after its occupation is amazing. It could be thought nobody was trying very hard. This is a completely absorbing history for anyone who is interested in World War II and the liberation of Paris from Nazi control.
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Reviews
John
As the Allies closed in from the East and the West in August 1944, Adolf Hitler's top priority was to hold on to Paris at all costs. And if he had to lose Paris, he was determined to destroy it.How that DIDN'T happen is the subject of Larry Collins' and Dominique LaPierre's 1965 book "Is Paris Burning," the third remarkable book I've read by this pair within the past few months.The central figure is the German Gen. Dietrich von Choltitz, commander in Paris for the final 18 days that Germany held the city. Choltitz was a thoroughly military man who had never even considered disobeying an order. But he also didn't want to go down in history is the man responsible for destroying Paris. Had someone else been in command, there might be no Eiffel Tower, no Notre-Dame Cathedral, none of the great landmarks of Paris today. The authors reported this story so well and told it with such detail that I had to keep reminding myself I wasn't reading fiction.They brought the key figures to life so skillfully that I found myself feeling sympathy for the Germans as well as for the French and Americans in Paris.Here's an excerpt from early in the book, when some of the ragtag members of the French resistance are desperately holding on to a building against overwhelming German firepower:Caillette hung up, and, weeping with emotion, stumbled back into the Salle des Fetes. "Les gars," he rasped in a voice raw and hoarse from strain, "the Americans are in Chartres!" The exhausted and beaten men looked at each other, then back at Caillette. He was standing at attention, tears rolling down his face, singing the "Marseillaise." For a moment, they stood still; then they too began to sing. As the sound of their song, rising defiantly over the firing, drifted from the building, hundreds of men and women, watching the fight from windows and balconies, joined in. For a poignant moment, the singing of the Frenchmen inside and outside the surrounded Mairie blended together in a strange communion, stifling for an instant the angry clash of rifle fire. Edging to a window, Caillette looked out and saw on the balcony of his own apartment three blocks away a familiar figure singing with them. Behind a pot of geraniums was the wife he had not seen in three months of hiding from the Gestapo. She did not even know he was in the building.
Darlene
Edition: Pocket Books #95027.Author: Larry Collins and Dominique LapierrePublished 1966Ah, Paris! The city of culture, lights, romance, wine and abounding beauty. This book tells the story of its occupation by Germany during WWII. The resistance, Vichy intrigue, German occupiers getting fat on the spoils, the women of France who conspired to save their lives and fought with the resistance to save the lives of others; all are poignantly written about. I live in a city of many lights myself. War here would devastate my home town. How can one arrogant, hate- fueled man cause so much emotion all of these years later. With one phrase, Hitler brought down the wrath of his evil heart upon a city of people, divided in loyalties yet eminently French. Is Paris Burning? I found this book to be worth five stars. History, culture, music, food and love are all captured within the pages. Each tale of the characters involved is one to be learned, with a view to one's own stance on war. I live in America, a nation known for fighting upon foreign soil, known for valor and loss, proved to be for democratic change and instilling hope for nations under siege. This book made me think about my own choices. Would I stay or flee? Would I aid an enemy? Would I fight to save my nation? As a Christian believer what would my stance be? When you have the privilege of hindsight you can get a pretty good idea of how you feel, what you think and how you would react if you were in a war torn dilemma. Me? I know very well that I would side with the allies, fight when necessary, care for and provide aid for my own country while praying for and showing compassion for the enemy without aiding and abetting. To live as the free French did, must have been so difficult. Amenities, food, basic medicine, all of these things became treasures. Darkness in a city of soft light must have been oppressive. Each doorway held a friend or foe. Collaborators were despised and their fate was terrible to read about. I think this book will resonate with me for a long time. May we never enter another world war. May we forever stand in the breach to assist countries in need. God bless America. ( Now, off the soap box)
Professor
Is Paris Burning? is a collection of anecdotes from various people involved in the liberation of Paris-Free French regulars, French resistance, GIs, reporters, German officers and soldiers, and civilians. I enjoyed the first hand accounts, but since this book was written in the 60s one has to wonder how much spin people were giving them. It's probably best read either by someone like me, with only a passing familiarity with what happened, or patient historically minded types who are willing to overlook the sometimes excessive liberty taken with the narrative by the authors-we occasionally get the dying thoughts of people-to get to some first hand accounts. I will say though, if you don't already know the story of the liberation of Paris the book is at times frustrating because it's easy to get lost in the "stories strung together to tell you what happened" style of the book. Still, some great insider info and stories-I am curious how well the film based on the book chose to adapt such a sprawling and all-over-the-place narrative.
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