(Review) They Fought Alone: The True Story of the Starr Brothers, British Secret Agents in Nazi-Occupied France by Charles Glass


Publisher and Publication Date: Penguin Press. September 11, 2018.
Genre: Nonfiction. World War II. Memoir. Secret Service.
Pages: 336.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Recommend. Very good.
Audience: World War II readers.


Included are 46 illustrations and a six page list of characters.

I love the opening line of the prologue: “The German occupation of France, as Dickens wrote of the French Revolution, was the best and the worst of times.”
In mid 1940, Nazi Germany invaded France, and the French people lived under Germany’s heavy rule until late summer of 1944.
During the occupation, the French Resistance worked to collect information and sabotage German efforts.
The Starr brothers were George Reginald Starr and John Ashford Renshaw Starr. Their father was born in America, but the brothers were born in England. These brothers joined the new organization of SOE or Special Operations Executive. The brothers worked in different areas of France. One of them was arrested, tortured, and spent time in a prison. Later, one of the brothers was accused of war crimes. An investigation proceeded.
They Fought Alone is the story of the Starr brothers, but shares the stories of many of the SOE and Resistance workers during the occupation of France.

My Thoughts:
The previous book I reviewed on the same kind of topic was Long Live Freedom, about resistance efforts in Germany. Their group was named the White Rose. Both Long Live Freedom and They Fought Alone are nonfiction, neither are narrative nonfiction. They are journalistic or academic. They Fought Alone is chronological in time and this is helpful to the reader.

What I loved about the book:
•For the most part it is chronological in sequence of dates and events.
•The historical characters are shown with their positive and negative traits. They are described with a transparent and unbiased view.
•The agents had code names, and at times I had to remember who was who. However, I did not become lost as the list of characters in the front of the book helped.
•The Resistance and SOE work is shown in the book. Operations and how they were carried out as well as the results.
•A strong aspect of the book is the history surrounding one of the brothers who was accused of war crimes. After all he’d endured, he was accused and investigated.




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