The best-selling author of The Liberator brings to life the incredible true story of an American doctor in Paris, and his heroic espionage efforts during World War II
The leafy Avenue Foch, one of the most exclusive residential streets in Nazi-occupied France, was Paris’s hotbed of daring spies, murderous secret police, amoral informers, and Vichy collaborators. So when American physician Sumner Jackson, who lived with his wife and young son Phillip at Number 11, found himself drawn into the Liberation network of the French resistance, he knew the stakes were impossibly high. Just down the road at Number 31 was the “mad sadist” Theodor Dannecker, an Eichmann protégé charged with deporting French Jews to concentration camps. And Number 84 housed the Parisian headquarters of the Gestapo, run by the most effective spy hunter in Nazi Germany.
From his office at the American Hospital, itself an epicenter of Allied and Axis intrigue, Jackson smuggled fallen Allied fighter pilots safely out of France, a job complicated by the hospital director’s close ties to collaborationist Vichy. After witnessing the brutal round-up of his Jewish friends, Jackson invited Liberation to officially operate out of his home at Number 11–but the noose soon began to tighten. When his secret life was discovered by his Nazi neighbors, he and his family were forced to undertake a journey into the dark heart of the war-torn continent from which there was little chance of return.
Drawing upon a wealth of primary source material and extensive interviews with Phillip Jackson, Alex Kershaw recreates the City of Light during its darkest days. The untold story of the Jackson family anchors the suspenseful narrative, and Kershaw dazzles readers with the vivid immediacy of the best spy thrillers. Awash with the tense atmosphere of World War II’s Europe, Avenue of Spies introduces us to the brave doctor who risked everything to defy Hitler. -credit Goodreads
- Extraordinarily researched (2 years)
- Learned a lot about free and vichy france, and got a lot more context as to the extent of how much wars affect everyone involved. America is normally a bit more removed from wars, but during World War II, even people who were separated from the actual fighting were still slaughtered in their homes and the people who were deemed inadequate were destroyed just for who they were.
- It was slow and I never truly got into it until the last few chapters. I was interested as to what would happen to Sumner and his family, but it took me over a month to get through and I had to frequently stop and read other books or do other things.
I enjoyed the story and learned a lot, but it was one of the slower books I have read. That, however is my only complaint. It has very interesting concepts. It was better than a textbook, but not quite a novel.
Before the story even starts, it opens with this quote and I love it!!!
“We lived in the shadows as soldiers of the night, but our lives were not dark and martial… There were arrests, torture, and death for so many of our friends and comrades, and tragedy awaited all of us just around the corner. But we did not live in or with tragedy. We were exhilarated by the challenge and rightness of our cause. It was in many ways the worst of times and in many ways the best of times, and the best is what we remember today.” (Jean-Pierre Levy)
Okay, so maybe love isn’t the right word, but it is such a great description.
I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.