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 resistant trained by Britain's Special Operations Executive.Read more...
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 resistant trained by Britain's Special Operations Executive.
A scion of one of the most storied families in France, Robert de La Rochefoucald was raised in magnificent chateaux and educated in Europe's finest schools. When the Nazis invaded and imprisoned his father, La Rochefoucald escaped to England and learned the dark arts of anarchy and combat--cracking safes and planting bombs and killing with his bare hands--from the officers of Special Operations Executive, the collection of British spies, beloved by Winston Churchill, who altered the war in Europe with tactics that earned it notoriety as the "Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare." With his newfound skills, La Rochefoucauld returned to France and organized Resistance cells, blew up fortified compounds and munitions factories, interfered with Germans' war-time missions, and executed Nazi officers. Caught by the Germans, La Rochefoucald withstood months of torture without cracking, and escaped his own death, not once but twice.
The Saboteur recounts La Rochefoucauld's enthralling adventures, from jumping from a moving truck on his way to his execution to stealing Nazi limos to dressing up in a nun's habit--one of his many disguises and impersonations. Whatever the mission, whatever the dire circumstance, La Rochefoucauld acquitted himself nobly, with the straight-back aplomb of a man of aristocratic breeding: James Bond before Ian Fleming conjured him.
More than just a fast-paced, true thriller, The Saboteur is also a deep dive into an endlessly fascinating historical moment, telling the untold story of a network of commandos that battled evil, bravely worked to change the course of history, and inspired the creation of America's own Central Intelligence Agency.
- ISBN-13: 9780062322524
- ISBN-10: 0062322524
- Publisher: Harper
- Publish Date: December 2017
- Page Count: 304
- Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
An aristocrat turned war hero
BookPage Top Pick in Nonfiction, December 2017
Step aside, James Bond. There’s a new sexy spy hero in town, and this one has the advantage of being real. His name is La Rochefoucauld, Robert de La Rochefoucauld, and his career as a résistant in Nazi-occupied France is the subject of Paul Kix’s The Saboteur: The Aristocrat Who Became France’s Most Daring Anti-Nazi Commando.
La Rochefoucauld, the carefree second son of one of France’s most distinguished families, was an unlikely hero. A bit of a ne’er-do-well, La Rochefoucauld was in no way the exemplary son that his beloved elder brother was. But La Rochefoucauld inherited the same sense of duty that had marked generations of his family, and at the age of 19, when France capitulated to Germany, he was determined to continue the fight against the Nazis.
After rigorous—and downright dangerous—training in England, La Rochefoucauld parachuted into France and began his spectacular career as a saboteur of Nazi operations. Captured, tortured and condemned to death by the Germans, La Rochefoucauld managed to escape from certain doom time and time again. If this were fiction, the plot would be fantastical; as a work of nonfiction, it is a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of the human spirit.
Kix’s sharp, well-paced writing is perfect for telling La Rochefoucauld’s story. But this is more than a gripping yarn of daring-do. La Rochefoucauld was a complex character, and Kix’s portrait is nuanced and moving. We are introduced to La Rochefoucauld when he is about to testify in the trial of an accused war criminal and collaborator—for the defense. Obviously, this is not your stereotypical resistance fighter, and Kix’s book poses the big questions: What is duty? What is courage? What is loyalty?
Like many veterans of his generation, La Rochefoucauld rarely spoke about his experiences to his family. We are fortunate to have Kix’s richly detailed book so we can remember the remarkable courage of an extraordinary man.