The Saboteur: The Aristocrat Who Became France's Most Daring Anti-Nazi Commando by Paul Kix

The Saboteur: The Aristocrat Who Became France's Most Daring Anti-Nazi Commando

In the tradition of Agent Zigzag comes this breathtaking biography, as fast-paced and emotionally intuitive as the very best spy thrillers, which illuminates an unsung hero of the French Resistance during World War II—Robert de La Rochefoucald, an aristocrat turned anti-Nazi saboteur—and his daring exploits as a résistant trained by Britain’s Special Operations ExecutiveA...

Title:The Saboteur: The Aristocrat Who Became France's Most Daring Anti-Nazi Commando
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The Saboteur: The Aristocrat Who Became France's Most Daring Anti-Nazi Commando Reviews

  • Nissa

    Kix tells a very detailed and captivating story of amazing bravery. I've always had an interest in this horrific period in history and have read just about anything that I come across that takes place during this time, both fiction and nonfiction. This is essential reading for anyone interested in the activities of the SOE in France during WWII. A fast-paced and thrilling read!

  • Debby

    Well done.

    The writing was so good, you forget you're reading and get wrapped into the war torn plots, plans and danger of the time. Told from the perspective of the French and a resistance member. There were even more atrocities than I remember learning about in my history classes. I liked the fact that there were not gory descriptions of the violence, but rather a more factual telling that did not lose the emotion of the situation.

    You are taken behind enemy lines and within the plots, along wi

    Well done.

    The writing was so good, you forget you're reading and get wrapped into the war torn plots, plans and danger of the time. Told from the perspective of the French and a resistance member. There were even more atrocities than I remember learning about in my history classes. I liked the fact that there were not gory descriptions of the violence, but rather a more factual telling that did not lose the emotion of the situation.

    You are taken behind enemy lines and within the plots, along with their inherent danger, of the saboteurs that struck in such a way to disable plans rather than destroying people. Very well done.

    Thank you.

  • Amy Layton

    If you're feeling upset about the general state of the world right now, I'd definitely recommend this book to you.  If you like WW2 nonfiction, I'd definitely recommend this book to you.  If you like French histories and biographies, I'd definitely recommend this book to you.  If you........okay.  I'd recommend this book to everybody.  

    Let's begin just with the factual stuff: this biography is well-researched, to the point of Kix reaching out to de la Rochefoucald's surviving family and Skyping

    If you're feeling upset about the general state of the world right now, I'd definitely recommend this book to you.  If you like WW2 nonfiction, I'd definitely recommend this book to you.  If you like French histories and biographies, I'd definitely recommend this book to you.  If you........okay.  I'd recommend this book to everybody.  

    Let's begin just with the factual stuff: this biography is well-researched, to the point of Kix reaching out to de la Rochefoucald's surviving family and Skyping with them.  Kix researched different articles about de la Rochefoucald, watched documentaries, and garnered as much information as he possibly could about this little-known spy.  I mean, after all, he was a spy, and why would his information about his missions just be floating around?  So, Kix does a pretty dang good job at constructing a timeline and narrative for him.

    Next--holy cow.  Obviously spies are daring and incredible and do things that no average human could do but...damn.  I mean, the descriptions of torture aren't enough to make me turn away from the page, but the idea of it made me want to vomit.  The descriptions of how he had to lie about his age just in order to become a spy and how many different bureaucratic and intensive, secretive steps he had to take just to get into the training in which people sometimes died??  Or how he faced his fears of parachuting??  Or how he had to go undercover through a secret passageway out of France into Spain without being caught???  Or how his most daring and greatest plot was achieved through disguise and infiltration???  Or how he had to just hope that a shopowner was part of the resistance???  Okay.  You get the idea. 

    This book will immediately capture your attention and will keep it.  It'll make you feel motivated and inspired and completely desperate for a rich person who feels the same way.  Because let's face it.  Robert de la Rochefoucald could have spent a life in luxury--or as close to luxury as you can get when you're being food rationed and there's a hole in your roof--but instead decided to devote his life to France and a staunchly anti-nazi position.  Just...this book is great.  Please read it.

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  • Steve

    A fascinating and interesting book Robert de la Rouchefoucauld came from a well to do family in France and became a spy during World War II. When the Germans invaded France, He escaped to England and learned how to plant bombs and learned the art of unarmed combat and how to use a knife in silent killing techniques. He returned to France and organized Resistance cells, blew up German munition factories. He was captured and tortured and escaped execution twice. This reads like a spy novel, But in

    A fascinating and interesting book Robert de la Rouchefoucauld came from a well to do family in France and became a spy during World War II. When the Germans invaded France, He escaped to England and learned how to plant bombs and learned the art of unarmed combat and how to use a knife in silent killing techniques. He returned to France and organized Resistance cells, blew up German munition factories. He was captured and tortured and escaped execution twice. This reads like a spy novel, But in real life.

  • Johnstonrw

    ATTENTION: there are spoilers below that will not ruin reading the book.

    This is a book that deserved to be written, but by a better writer and scholar, with better editing and proofreading. Let's start with the last first: "chateaux" on the dust jacket is used as the singular, whereas the correct form is "chateau" or properly "château." Perpignan is a city in southwest France, not southeast. The famous French composer is "Gounod," not "Guonod." But enough of these minor quibbles.

    With the endnote

    ATTENTION: there are spoilers below that will not ruin reading the book.

    This is a book that deserved to be written, but by a better writer and scholar, with better editing and proofreading. Let's start with the last first: "chateaux" on the dust jacket is used as the singular, whereas the correct form is "chateau" or properly "château." Perpignan is a city in southwest France, not southeast. The famous French composer is "Gounod," not "Guonod." But enough of these minor quibbles.

    With the endnotes the author admits to not being fluent in French and having had to rely on translators. Even not knowing this fact until after reading the main text I had the impression some of the conclusions were second-hand. I grew weary of many non-standard expressions like "He could not help but..." that reveal a certain subjectivity you don't usually see in a book based on solid research. The repeated references to La Rochefoucauld's state of mind seemed like overextending and speculation. Even reliance on his diary would not really support these assertions. The writer is struggling to make a simple story more dramatic. We have to believe his own account of the meeting with DeGaulle. The author seems to have struggled to make an essay into a book, and still managed only 222 pages.

    Robert's experience is exciting and having made two miraculous escapes is noteworthy, meriting perhaps the subtitle "... France's most daring anti-Nazi commando." There were plenty of others just as brave, a few of whom survived, some of whom were more effective but perhaps less daring; and they got in the fray much earlier. Robert joined it more then two years on, when there was better support. I'm not sure I can believe he could not get to London for all that time. The author notes with some chagrin that there is no confirmation in England of his having been trained there at all, and has to resort to rationalizations and secondary evidence. Is that story all cocked up?

    I suspect the family resorted to this writer to tell their hero's story because no one in France would handle it. La Rochefoucauls should have had his Légion d'Honneur revoked for lending Maurice Papon, the convicted war criminal, his passport to escape briefly to Switzerland, and that the Swiss extradited him swiftly confirms that conviction. Robert seems to have had a contrary streak all along. Perhaps the subtitle would more accurately have read "... France's most eccentric anti-Nazi commando."

    I do not want to gainsay Kix's diligence and commitment. He did do a lot of work researching and interviewing, and the story is compelling by fits and starts, so it's worth reading. It is episodic perhaps by the very nature of its subject but the story could flow better. The end comes quickly as Bordeaux is liberated in August 1944 after the signature St. Médard operation. The book lacks the index most self-respecting works of this nature would typically contain.

  • Lilyana Yankova

    A thought-provoking, well-researched, and totally unputdownable portrait of the complexity of occupied France. The author's diligence and close attention to detail are remarkable. All of his characters, even minor ones, are memorable.

  • Bev Simpson

    I was attracted to this book because of a long time interest in resistance movements during WW2. My Dad gave me one about Norwegian resistors when I was a teenager. We have a Norwegian heritage and I was enthralled with the stories of their exploits. I am always amazed at the courage saboteurs had in dealing with the enemy, never knowing when torture or death might result, and not knowing how long the war would last, or who might "win". I am particularly interested in female resistors, always wo

    I was attracted to this book because of a long time interest in resistance movements during WW2. My Dad gave me one about Norwegian resistors when I was a teenager. We have a Norwegian heritage and I was enthralled with the stories of their exploits. I am always amazed at the courage saboteurs had in dealing with the enemy, never knowing when torture or death might result, and not knowing how long the war would last, or who might "win". I am particularly interested in female resistors, always wondering what kind of courage I might find in myself, if any. My generation has led an easy life in comparison to those who came before us and I am a product of that easier life. This biography of aristocratic and privileged Robert de La Rochefoucauld is full of interesting adventures and operations carried out in the French Resistance in early- mid 40's France, some of it hard to fathom but likely mostly true none the less. His daring exploits as a résistant trained by Britain’s Special Operations Executive in England are an interesting read. In the text French résistant Marie Madeleine Fourcade (November 8, 1909 Marseille - July 20, 1989 Paris) is mentioned as responsible for one of the most important resistance networks that acted for the British SOE (MI6) during WW2. I will look for a biography about her.

  • Casey Schesky

    This book is an outstanding read. Delving into the little known French Resistance' fighter Robert de La Rochefoucauld's exploits, Paul Kix masterfully tells the tales of bravery, courage and pain. A must read!

  • Marge

    This could have been a great story about a French aristocrat who fought for the Resistance and escaped twice from Nazi prisons. Once afterward he even wore a nun's habit and slipped by Nazi soldiers searching for him.

    However, instead of focusing on that part of the story, the book spends too much time on dull details leading up to those times, then glosses over the exciting points.

  • Joshua

    Terrific book about resistance effort against the Nazis in WWII in France. Right up my alley. Focuses on a wealthy teenager who ends up making multiple missions, training other resistance fighters, attempts dangerous bits of sabotage, undergoes torture, you name it. Short book that flies by if you are interested in WWII, guerrilla warfare, resistance fighters, and suspenseful tales about taking out Nazis.

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