It is good to be reminded of just how many risked imprisonment or execution for hiding Jews under the racialized jurisdiction of the occupiers ... The vastness of Kochanski’s subject can perhaps be grasped by the division of her book into thirty-two chapters, covering every aspect of resistance, whether direct violence, clandestine publication, help for escapers and evaders from Allied forces, or hiding Jews from the Gestapo’s remorseless hunt for victims ... Kochanski sums up what the resistance achieved in a few pages of conclusion, but this is a disappointment after such a full and nuanced account of all the different forms of resistance. As with many accounts of resistance, she measures its success by what the Allies got from it and concludes that intelligence information was most significant. This view reflects the way that much of the narrative is shaped by what the Allies did and wanted, rather than starting the other way round with the history of local resistance and the communities that housed it, into which SOE or OSS intruded from outside ... an impressively researched and comprehensive account. Kochanski’s huge history will be without question the best narrative available on the origins, growth and activities of the many forms of resistance to German and Italian occupation during the Second World War. Her panorama is vast, a mirror image of the war itself, to which the resistance owed its pattern and evolution. If it sometimes seems too encyclopedic, that reflects the challenge to any author in covering a continent-wide story with anything like adequate detail. Kochanski is to be congratulated on rising so effectively to the challenge.
This is the most comprehensive and best account of resistance I have read. It addresses the story with scholarly objectivity and an absolute lack of sentimentality. So much romantic twaddle is still published, especially about Britain’s Special Operations Executive and particularly about its female agents, that it is marvellous to read a study of such breadth and depth, which reaches balanced judgments ... It is not iconoclastic — indeed, pays effusive tribute to the courage of those who resisted. It merely seeks to address sometimes unpalatable realities.
... thorough and well-researched ... Kochanski is careful to note that the rise of resistance was never steady or linear ... How much did resistance forces contribute to winning the war? The obvious temptation for the author of a book like this is to play up the impact of all the human bravery it depicts. Kochanski resists it ... Kochanski tells this story effectively on the basis of deep research (although almost entirely in English-language sources). Her long book is always interesting and readable, sensitive to the powerful human drama it presents ... Often, however, Kochanski undermines the depth of her research through her rigid way of thinking about it. The most glaring example is her exclusion of German internal resistance from the story. Kochanski tells us she wants to write a .balanced. portrait of all European resistance that avoids the .pitfalls of nationalism.. But she also tells us that since Germany was neither invaded nor occupied, .there was nothing to resist'...This is nonsense ... Still, this is an instructive book ... One does not need to listen too closely to detect the melancholy echoes in our own time.
... comprehensive ... In her unflinching and sober account of the response of ordinary people under occupation, Kochanski shows that there is no straightforward answer to the question of why some Europeans chose to resist the Nazis while most did not ... Kochanski takes an uncompromising new look at many of these dearly held ideas without taking away from their importance 'to the concept of the nation state in the post-war years' ... A nuanced and dispassionate study, Resistance nonetheless pays tribute to those who 'were determined to thwart the designs of the Germans, to harass them, to deny them the opportunity to ever assert total control over the peoples of Europe.' Ideas of independence and dignity were at the heart of the struggle — worth fighting and even dying for.
... enormous, but eminently readable ... In a work as wide-ranging and thoroughly researched as Resistance, singling out a single theme would be a distortion of a narrative that is subtle, multilayered and kaleidoscopic ... Ms. Kochanski’s gripping account of the activities of the resistance and those sent from, mainly, Britain to work with them includes, as might be expected, tales of derring-do and extraordinary courage as well as tragedy, betrayal and Nazi barbarism ... But Ms. Kochanski is a determinedly clear-eyed historian. She doesn’t confuse heroism with effectiveness.
... compendious ... She might perhaps have written more about the backlash against the resistance ... It is impossible, even in a book of this length, to cover every aspect of a subject that spans six years, an entire continent and a vastly complicated array of networks and characters. Its value lies in identifying and recording the great sweep of resistance activities, and as an overview it will prove invaluable to historians.
Kochanski, after first surveying the breadth of Germany’s conquests, details the growth of resistance movements in all their manifestations, from sabotage to assassination. Preexisting local disputes, sheer economic necessity, and racist ideologies complicated these responses. She also casts revealing light in chapters devoted to both the Christian and Jewish responses to the Holocaust. In this massive work of research, Kochanski brings together individual stories and larger historical forces to document how ordinary people successfully challenged what seemed overwhelming military might.
The book’s organization is thematic, chronological, and geographic, which is important in a work of this scope ... The story of the resistance is a messy one, and Kochanski needs all of the book’s 960 pages to tell it thoroughly ... This title will be appreciated by specialists but is not for the general reader.
... a saga of epic heroism ... Writing in elegant prose, Kochanski balances meticulous detail with a broad analysis of patterns across movements—including the strategies of the British Special Operations Executive agents who tried to organize and manage them—and the experiences of individual resistance figures. This superb study demythologizes resistance movements while capturing their full drama.
Amagisterial doorstop of a history that is well worth the effort ... Impressively debunking myths and deconstructing faulty history, Kochanski adds that a resistance movement was active in every conquered nation, and heroism was widespread ... Kochanski continues her masterful chronicle beyond Germany’s surrender. She capably shows that while resistance organizations dissolved or entered politics in Western Europe, they continued to fight Soviet occupation or civil wars for years in Eastern Europe, Yugoslavia, and Greece ... A definitive history and a great read.