The Algeria Hotel by Adam Nossiter
France, Memory, and the Second World War

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Synopsis

Adam Nossiter spent part of his youth in France. During those years, in the mid-1960s, President de Gaulle forged the myth that France bravely resisted the German occupiers of World War II and that the nation was innocent in the crimes of the Holocaust. Collaboration with Germany and the deportations of Jews were subjects not dwelt on -- not until many years later.
THE ALGERIA HOTEL is Nossiter's intensely personal confrontation with the effects of this awakening to the underside of the French record in the war. For three years he lived and traveled in France, listening to people talk about the war -- mapping their stories, silences, evasions, and even lies. In Bordeaux, Nossiter follows the trial of Maurice Papon, the retired French official accused a half century later of orchestrating the deportation of Jews. He settles in Vichy, the seat of France's wartime government; shadowed by the Algeria Hotel, which housed the agency for Jewish affairs, Nossiter journeys into the dark heart of France's compromises with the Nazis. In Tulle, he listens for the echoes of a single afternoon when the Nazis carried out a terrible massacre of the town's residents.
An artful weave of vivid portraits, clear-eyed reporting, and meticulous historical research, The Algeria Hotel is an absorbing and resonant portrait of a nation and its people. Illuminating the many ways painful memories of the past leave their mark on the present, Nossiter reveals deep truths about how we remember and why we forget. The result is a searching and beautifully written narrative of how the French today live their lives haunted by the war and its crimes.
 

About Adam Nossiter

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Adam Nossiter, formerly a reporter for the New York Times and the Atlanta Journal Constitution, is the author of Of Long Memory: Mississippi and the Murder of Medgar Evers, which was selected as a New York Times Notable Book.
 
Published July 16, 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 320 pages
Genres: History, Travel, War, Political & Social Sciences, Crafts, Hobbies & Home. Non-fiction

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Vichy, the spa town that served as the capital of Occupied France, seemed “like Baudelaire’s forest of symbols, where every building and every corner had some associative value,” and where the act of disassociation was sabotaged when “what persisted might be all the more obsessive for hardly emer...

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Add to this the fact that Nossiter is delving back 50 years, and the result is a series of disconnected and uneven vignettes connected by Nossiter's constant reminders to readers of what he's trying to do.

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