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The Long Holiday by Francis Ambrière
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The Long Holiday (1946)

by Francis Ambrière

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    Resistance: A Frenchwoman's Journal of the War by Agnès Humbert (Stbalbach)
    Stbalbach: Both books published in 1946 by French POWs, Long Holiday won the Prix Goncourt.
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The Long Holiday won the Prix Goncourt in 1946. French author Francis Ambriere was taken captive in 1940, along with 1.7 million of his fellow countrymen, and held in Germany until 1945, one of the largest and longest military internments of the war. They were a veritable country within a country.

It's written for a French audience right after the war with a fair amount of nationalistic furor, but that doesn't take away from the freshness of the events having just occurred. Ambriere actually wrote much of it while still in prison and smuggled his papers out, it has an immediacy that goes beyond the kind of heroic romanticism that typify many accounts like this. It doesn't flinch from the brutality of the Germans, but doesn't dwell on it. It's episodic and not particularly dramatic, but reads well and is entertaining.

I was unable to find any sort of critical writings about the book, it seems to be almost entirely forgotten. That's too bad as it's not badly written and is an interesting account about an alternative way many people spent WWII. These were military camps for soldiers protected by the Geneva Convention, not civilians camps like the Holocaust, very different. The many ways in which the French fooled the Germans with small acts of disobedience is probably the best part of the book, movie material like in "The Great Escape", but without the hoohah bravado, more stylistic French. Like when housewives hung up laundry to dry, they had red/blue/white clothing, the colors of the French flag. Or when a prisoner escaped by seducing a German widow, he then donned her dead husbands Nazi identity (uniform and papers) and lived the high life in Berlin for the rest of the war!

--Review by Stephen Balbach, via CoolReading (c) 2011 cc-by-nd ( )
  Stbalbach | Jan 20, 2011 |
FRANCIS AMBRIERE'S "The Long Holiday"* was both a popular and a critical success in France. It sold more than 200,000 copies and won the Prix Goncourt for 1946. Although there have been several more dramatic and personal accounts by French prisoners of war than his, there has been none that I know of that offers so comprehensive a record of the life that was led in Germany by some 1,700,000 Frenchmen.
 

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Francis Ambrièreprimary authorall editionscalculated
Halperin, Elaine P.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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