Resistance: Book summary and reviews of Resistance by Halik Kochanski

Resistance

The Underground War Against Hitler, 1939-1945

by Halik Kochanski

Resistance by Halik Kochanski X
Resistance by Halik Kochanski
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Book Summary

Resistance is the first book of its kind: a monumental history that finally integrates the many resistance movements against Nazi hegemony in Europe into a single, sweeping narrative of defiance.

"To resist, therefore. But how, when and where? There were no laws, no guidelines, no precedents to show the way..." ―Dutch resister Herman Friedhoff

In every country that fell to the Third Reich during the Second World War, from France in the west to parts of the Soviet Union in the east, a resistance movement against Nazi domination emerged. And every country that endured occupation created its own fiercely nationalist account of the role of homegrown resistance in its eventual liberation. Halik Kochanski's panoramic, prodigiously researched work is a monumental achievement: the first book to strip these disparate national histories of myth and nostalgia and to integrate them into a definitive chronicle of the underground war against the Nazis.

Bringing to light many powerful and often little-known stories, Resistance shows how small bands of individuals took actions that could lead not merely to their own deaths, but to the liquidation of their families and their entire communities. As Kochanski demonstrates, most who joined up were not supermen and superwomen, but ordinary people drawn from all walks of life who would not have been expected―least of all by themselves―to become heroes of any kind. Kochanski also covers the sheer variety of resistance activities, from the clandestine press, assistance to Allied servicemen evading capture, and the provision of intelligence to the Allies to the more violent manifestations of resistance through sabotage and armed insurrection. For many people, resistance was not an occupation or an identity, but an activity: a person would deliver a cache of stolen documents to armed partisans and then seamlessly return to their normal life. For Jews under Nazi rule, meanwhile, the stakes at every point were life and death; resistance was less about national restoration than about mere survival.

Why resist at all? Who is the real enemy? What kind of future are we risking our lives for? These and other questions animated those who resisted. With penetrating insight, Kochanski reveals that the single quality that defined resistance across borders was resilience: despite the constant arrests and executions, resistance movements rebuilt themselves time and time again. A landmark history that will endure for decades to come, Resistance forces every reader to ask themselves yet another question, this distinct to our own times: "What would I have done?"



Two 8-page black-and-white inserts

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"An oft-romanticized aspect of WWII was fraught with dark moral ambiguity, according to this sweeping history of anti-Nazi resistance...in elegant prose, Kochanski balances meticulous detail with a broad analysis of patterns across movements...and the experiences of individual resistance figures. This superb study demythologizes resistance movements while capturing their full drama." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"[A] masterful chronicle...A definitive history and a great read." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Individual national histories have documented these efforts, but Kochanski...pulls back to take in both Eastern and Western Europe, revealing a wider perspective on these underground movements...She also casts revealing light in chapters devoted to both the Christian and Jewish responses to the Holocaust. In this massive work of research, Kochanski brings together individual stories and larger historical forces to document how ordinary people successfully challenged what seemed overwhelming military might." - Booklist (starred review)

"The story of the resistance is a messy one, and Kochanski needs all of the book's 960 pages to tell it thoroughly. This title will be appreciated by specialists but is not for the general reader." - Library Journal

"This is the most comprehensive and best account of resistance I have read. It addresses the story with scholarly objectivity and an absolute lack of sentimentality. So much romantic twaddle is still published...it is marvelous to read a study of such breadth and depth, which reaches balanced judgments." - The Sunday Times (UK)

This information about Resistance was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. 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 they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream 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

Halik Kochanski

Halik Kochanski is a British historian. A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, she has taught history at several universities and is the author of The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and the Poles in the Second World War. She lives in England.

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