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War in the Shadows

Resistance, Deception and Betrayal in Occupied France

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‘It is beautifully written, minutely observed… full of underhand trickery… in every sense of the word an intriguing book.’ The Times

After publishing an acclaimed biography of Jean Moulin, leader of the French Resistance, Patrick Marnham received an anonymous letter from a person who claimed to have worked for British Intelligence during the war. The ex-spy praised his book but insisted that he had missed the real ‘treasure’.

The letter drew Marnham back into the past, to the early 1960s when he had been taught French by a mercurial woman – a former Resistance leader, whose SOE network was broken on the same day that Moulin was captured. She was arrested by the Gestapo and endured eighteen months in Ravensbrück concentration camp. Could these two events have been connected? His anonymous correspondent seemed to think so and offered a tantalising set of clues. Using a knowledge of France gained from his years as a Paris correspondent, together with original research in British and French archives, Marnham set out to uncover the truth.

Part quest, part spy story, part history, War in the Shadows reveals the reality of the secret war at every level, and exposes the ruthless double-dealing of the British, French, American and Russian intelligence services through one of the darkest periods of the Second World War.

Full of twists and turns, it is a story worthy of le Carré, but with this difference – it is not fiction.

War in the Shadows is a melange of Le Grand Meaulnes and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. It is unforgettable.’


‘A masterly analysis, impeccably presented.’

– Spectator

‘It is beautifully written, minutely observed… full of underhand trickery… in every sense of the word an intriguing book.’

– Roger Boyes, The Times

‘Fascinating… Marnham has a vast and scholarly knowledge of this often treacherous world… [and] has painted a vivid picture of a number of idealistic and trusting men and women caught up in a game of subterfuge, rivalry and politics that remains impervious to full exposure, even now.’

– Literary Review

‘Patrick Marnham is one of our very best writers on France.’

– Antony Beevor

‘A brilliant and revelatory work of modern historical investigation, throwing new light on the French Resistance and the complex world of secret intelligence. Written with remarkable insight, understanding and empathy – a triumph.’

– William Boyd

‘An incredible story brilliantly told. Marnham has created an utterly gripping story of wartime espionage, deception, double-crossing and terrible betrayal that drew me in from the outset. A stunning work of investigation, research and scholarship. I honestly think this is the best book I have ever read about the SOE in France.’

– James Holland