By Anne Sebba
WINNER OF THE FRANCO-BRITISH SOCIETY BOOK PRIZE 2016What did it feel like to be a woman living in Paris from 1939 to 1949? These were years of fear, power, aggression, courage, deprivation and secrets until - finally - renewal and retribution. Even at the darkest moments of Occupation, glamour was ever present. French women wore lipstick. Why?It was women who came face to face with the German conquerors on a daily basis - perhaps selling them their clothes or travelling alongside them on the Metro, where a German soldier had priority over seats. By looking at a wide range of individuals from collaborators to resisters, actresses and prostitutes to teachers and writers, Anne Sebba shows that women made life-and-death decisions every day, and, in an atmosphere where sex became currency, often did whatever they needed to survive. Her fascinating cast includes both native Parisian women and those living in Paris temporarily: American women and Nazi wives, spies, mothers, mistresses, and fashion and jewellery designers. Some women, like the heiress Béatrice de Camondo or novelist Irène Némirovsky, converted to Catholicism; others like lesbian racing driver Violette Morris embraced the Nazi philosophy; only a handful, like Coco Chanel, retreated to the Ritz with a German lover.In enthralling detail Sebba explores the aftershock of the Second World War and the choices demanded. How did the women who survived to see the Liberation of Paris come to terms with their actions and those of others? Although politics lies at its heart, Les Parisiennes is the first in-depth account of the everyday lives of women and young girls in this most feminine of cities.
By Eric Hobsbawm
The topics covered in this book can be divided into four broad groups: studies of labour conditions up to the middle of the nineteenth century; studies in the 'new trade unionism' of 1889 to 1914; studies in the late nineteenth-century revival of Socialism in Britain; and more general topics covering a wider chronological span. The common factor in this wide-ranging work is that, unlike much other work of labour history, it concentrates on the working classes as such, and on the economic and technical conditions which allowed labour movements to be effective or which prevented their effectiveness.This work is notable not only for its clarity and incisiveness, but also for the richness and variety of the material, which ranges from Marx to Methodism and from labour traditions to the machine breakers.