cover image The Cost of Courage

The Cost of Courage

Charles Kaiser. Other Press, $26.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-59051-614-0

Kaiser (1968 in America), a former New York Times reporter, draws on historical documents, interviews, and private letters in this vivid family portrait that examines four siblings’ heroic contribution to the French resistance of WWII. Prior to the war, the Boulloche family enjoyed a liberal, bourgeois Parisian life. But in 1940 their son Andre, a dashing 24-year-old lieutenant stationed in Algeria, committed to “join the secret war against the Germans,” and soon his brother and sisters followed suit. Four years later Andre—pseudonym: Armand; codename: Hypotenuse—was handpicked by General De Gaulle to organize those in the Resistance known as the “Maquis.” Kaiser opens with Andre’s 1944 arrest by the Gestapo, retracing his transformation from highway engineer to secret agent. Rather than swallowing his cyanide pill, Andre becomes a “leader of his fellow prisoners” and is sent to a concentration camp. The Gestapo searches for his sister Christiane, a hero in her own right, but when the search proves unsuccessful, they seize and condemn her parents and older brother. Part two follows the family’s postwar rebuilding as Andre, who briefly served in De Gaulle’s cabinet, becomes a spokesman for the Socialist party. Kaiser’s use of Andre’s first-person narration can be distracting, but otherwise this is a riveting paean to unsung war heroes in occupied France. [em](June) [/em]