Paper Bullets: Book summary and reviews of Paper Bullets by Jeffrey H. Jackson

Paper Bullets

Two Artists Who Risked Their Lives to Defy the Nazis

by Jeffrey H. Jackson

Paper Bullets by Jeffrey H. Jackson X
Paper Bullets by Jeffrey H. Jackson
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About this book

Book Summary

Paper Bullets is the first book to tell the history of an audacious anti-Nazi campaign undertaken by an unlikely pair: two French women, Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe, who drew on their skills as Parisian avant-garde artists to write and distribute "paper bullets" - wicked insults against Hitler, calls to rebel, and subversive fictional dialogues designed to demoralize Nazi troops occupying their adopted home on the British Channel Island of Jersey.

Devising their own PSYOPS campaign, they slipped their notes into soldier's pockets or tucked them inside newsstand magazines.

Hunted by the secret field police, Lucy and Suzanne were finally betrayed in 1944, when the Germans imprisoned them, and tried them in a court martial, sentencing them to death for their actions. Ultimately they survived, but even in jail, they continued to fight the Nazis by reaching out to other prisoners and spreading a message of hope.

Better remembered today by their artist names, Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, the couple's actions were even more courageous because of who they were: lesbian partners known for cross-dressing and creating the kind of gender-bending work that the Nazis would come to call "degenerate art." In addition, Lucy was half Jewish, and they had communist affiliations in Paris, where they attended political rallies with Surrealists and socialized with artists like Gertrude Stein.

Paper Bullets is a compelling World War II story that has not been told before, about the galvanizing power of art, and of resistance.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Drawing on archival and genealogical sources, the women's own writings, and histories of the period, Jackson creates a vivid picture of the tense, fearsome atmosphere of Jersey under Nazi occupation and the perils of resistance. A unique WWII history and absorbing story of two bold, unconventional women." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"A remarkable story of creative courage...exceptional and inspiring." - Booklist (starred review)

"A captivating tale of queer love and resistance during World War II… Jackson's research is impeccable and his writing is lively...Paper Bullets is a gem of a historical text about two women who stood up to power defiantly, living on their own terms." - Foreword Reviews (starred review)

"[I]ntriguing and thoroughly researched...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." - Publishers Weekly

"This is a Nazi resistance story like none you've ever heard or read, a story with two unlikely heroines who risked their lives in their subversive—and often wildly creative—struggle to face down evil. Paper Bullets prompts us to explore the boundaries of art, love, gender, and politics—and to question the true meaning of courage." - Hampton Sides, bestselling author of In the Kingdom of Ice and On Desperate Ground

"Every page is gripping, and the amount of new research is nothing short of mind-boggling. A brilliant book for the ages!" - Douglas Brinkley, Rice University Professor and bestselling author of American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race

"Riveting. Breaks new ground in our understanding of collaboration and resistance in Nazi-occupied Europe and the impact of women in wartime. A must-read for anyone interested in World War II, resistance, women's history, or the defense of democratic ideals during times of tyranny and oppression." - Michael D. Bess, Vanderbilt University Professor and author of Choices Under Fire

"A gripping story. The lesbian couple Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe deployed their intellectual capacities and peacetime experience in dissembling their identities to challenge the German occupiers with artistic 'paper bullets.' The contest between the baffled Nazis and the crafty traitors animates this historical thriller." - Bonnie G. Smith, author of Women In World History

This information about Paper Bullets shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Jeffrey H. Jackson

Jeffrey H. Jackson is Professor of History at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. An expert on European history and culture, he is the author of Paris Under Water: How the City of Light Survived the Great Flood of 1910 and Making Jazz French: Music and Modern Life in Interwar Paris. He has appeared in documentary films and helped develop "Harlem in Montmartre: A Paris Jazz Story" for PBS's Great Performances.

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