cover image Paper Bullets: Two Artists Who Risked Their Lives to Defy the Nazis

Paper Bullets: Two Artists Who Risked Their Lives to Defy the Nazis

Jeffrey H. Jackson. Algonquin, $27.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-61620-916-2

In this intriguing and carefully documented account, Rhodes College history professor Jackson (Paris Under Water) documents the “artistic acts of psychological warfare” committed by French artists Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe on the British Channel island of Jersey during WWII. Friends since childhood, Schwob and Malherbe fell in love when they were teenagers and moved to Paris in the 1920s, where they swirled in the same bohemian circles as James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and André Breton. In 1937, the women, posing as sisters, moved to Jersey to “find quiet,” only to see it fall to the Germans in 1940. Their acts of resistance included scrawling graffiti on buildings and leaving notes snuck into soldier’s pockets and in between the pages of newsstand magazines. The messages, including photomontages, summaries of BBC news reports, and literary parodies “focused on fomenting resentment against the war and the German leadership,” Jackson writes. Discovered and arrested in July 1944, Schwob and Malherbe attempted suicide and spent months imprisoned before being sentenced to death. They inspired other prisoners through the notes they continued to pass, and were eventually released in May 1945. Expertly mining the couple’s own “postwar reminisces,” Jackson enriches his account with colorful details such as the time they smuggled a cat through customs in a Hermès bag. Readers will delight in this unique and well-crafted story of wartime resistance. (Nov.)