• The Art of Resistance

  • My Four Years in the French Underground: A Memoir
  • By: Justus Rosenberg
  • Narrated by: Rob Shapiro
  • Length: 7 hrs and 36 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (70 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

An unforgettable World War II memoir set in Nazi-occupied France and filled with romance and adventure: a former Eastern European Jew remembers his flight from the Holocaust and his extraordinary four years in the French underground. Justus Rosenberg, now 98, has taught literature at Bard College for the past 50 years.

In 1937, as the Nazis gained control and anti-Semitism spread in the Free City of Danzig, a majority German city on the Baltic Sea, 16-year-old Justus Rosenberg was sent to Paris to finish his education in safety. Three years later, France fell to the Germans. Alone and in danger, penniless and cut off from contact with his family in Poland, Justus fled south. A chance meeting led him to Varian Fry, an American journalist in Marseille who was helping thousands of men and women escape the Nazis, among them artists and intellectuals Hannah Arendt, Marc Chagall, Andre Breton, and Max Ernst.

With his German background, understanding of French cultural, and fluency in several languages, including English, Justus became an invaluable member of Fry’s refugee network as a spy and scout. The spry blond who looked even younger than his age flourished in the underground, handling counterfeit documents, secret passwords, and black market currency, surveying escape routes, and dealing with avaricious gangsters. When Fry was eventually forced to leave France, his trusted colleague Justus - Gussie, as he was affectionately known - could not get out. For the next four years, Justus relied on his wits and skills to escape captivity, survive several close calls with death, and continue his fight against the Nazis, working with the French Resistance and eventually the United States Army. At the war’s end, Justus emigrated to America and built a new life.

Justus’ story is a powerful saga of bravery, daring, adventure, and survival with the soul of a spy thriller. Reflecting on his past, Justus sees his life as a confluence of circumstances. As he writes, "I survived the war through a rare combination of good fortune, resourcefulness, optimism, and, most important, the kindness of many good people."

©2020 Justus Rosenberg (P)2020 HarperAudio

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  • Overall
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justus Rosenberg wrote this amazing memoir at 98

In his prologue he lists many other experiences after the war he plans to write about, and i truly hope he does!

1 person found this helpful

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Extraordinary story and account of the resistance

Well written and intriguing story of before during and after occupied Europe during WW2.

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Thoughtful, thrilling, true

a fascinating story of courage in wartime France with a surprise connection to University of Dayton in epilogue...The reader can relive the danger with the boy, and ponder his reflections as a wise man.

1 person found this helpful

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Learn from history

Moral in the epilogue is timely. Great nonfiction, reads quickly. Good addition to resistance lore and history!

1 person found this helpful

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Rosenberg, Please focus

Hes a jewish man in 1940 from Germany, with family living there.Yet, He incessantly talks about girls and women. I know about few friends but an absurd amount about his dating life including the first woman he was intimate with. I will note im not a prude by any means but this man is a professor who presumably wrote this after his adolescence(considering when it was published) so the weird focus really drew me from the story. *but its about the fact he's a teen during this time-its giving you a fuller, more honest view* you say. I get it. Had he focused on the other aspects of his social life or given literally any info about these women I'd be fine but goodness. Frankly impressed he was able to accomplish anything without his raging....focus on women in the way.

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Full spectrum

It’s good to get a variety of real stories, life experiences from everyone involved. I was grateful to read this man’s story, but I’ll admit, it wasn’t as intriguing as I thought it would be. Maybe it’s because I just finished reading A woman of no importance, an action filled account of an American woman involved with the French Resistance. This book left me feeling a little flat. Four years in the resistance and no active fighting or scrapes with danger, and even when he does get involved on that front, it’s still relatively calm.

All that being said, it was still an interesting read because he did actively contribute to end the war.

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Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

Thank you Justus Rosenberg for sharing your fantastic story. This is the best French Résistance story I’ve read. He was very lucky, but half or more of luck is being smart enough to seize those lucky opportunities when they present themselves. Three weeks ago, I’d never heard of him. Two weeks ago I read his obit, discovered he’d written a memoir two years ago at 98 years old. He has a great memory and a great skill of writing. What a life!

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Excellent. Evocative.

Extreme personal adventure with an amazing tour guide. Highly recommended. Spend some time with this hero.

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Riveting account of Rosenberg’s life up to and during WWII

A fascinating and exciting account of WWII, as seen from the eyes of Justus Rosenberg. Whether new to history and Jewish history, like me, or otherwise, I highly recommend reading this brilliant book.