The book tells the story of life in France from 1940 to 1944 under the Vichy regime. Centered on the department of the Dordogne, described by the occupiers as "la petite Russie", and where resistance led to brutal reprisals. In the "zone libre", to resist meant doing so on two fronts - against the German occupiers and against the Vichy authorities. Ordinary people were forced to make extraordinary decisions. To choose to resist was to choose to be different, and bravery began at home.
A collective victory in the face of a brutal repressive force, the people refused to crumble. Amongst rolling hills, dense forests and bastide towns maquis fighters co-existed with a terrified population. This is the story of one of the cradles of Resistance where military disaster led to public apathy and a far right-wing national revolution.
Some chose to resist but most, for a myriad of reasons, chose not to. Written with empathy for the very real dangers of the time, a central narrative has been drawn from countless testimonies, personal stories and official archival documentation.
Leading to questions about the true nature of Resistance and Collaboration, and to France's own decades long reticence on the subject, this book recounts stories of adventure, unbelievable bravery, intricate organisation and dangerous in-fighting that led ultimately to the story of the liberation of France.