They Fought Alone: The True Story of the Starr Brothers, British Secret Agents in Nazi-Occupied France

October 30, 2020
They Fought Alone: The True Story of the Starr Brothers, British Secret Agents in Nazi-Occupied France

"Highly detailed and fast-paced, Charles Glass's TheyFought Alone is a must-read for those whose passion is theResistance literature of World War II." —Alan Furst, author of AHero of FranceFrom the bestselling author of Americans in Paris and TheDeserters, the astounding story of Britain's Special OperationsExecutive, one of World War II's most important secret fightingforcesAs far as the public knew, Britain's Special Operations Executive(SOE) did not exist. After the defeat of the French Army andBritain's retreat from the Continent in June 1940, Prime MinisterWinston Churchill created the top-secret espionage operation to"set Europe ablaze." The agents infiltrated Nazi-occupiedterritory, parachuting behind enemy lines and hiding in plainsight, quietly but forcefully recruiting, training, and arminglocal French résistants to attack the German war machine. SOE wouldnot only change the course of the war, but the nature of combatitself. Of the many brave men and women conscripted, twoAnglo-American recruits, the Starr brothers, stood out to becomelegendary figures to the guerillas, assassins, and saboteurs theyled.While both brothers were sent across the channel to organizeagainst the Germans, their fates in war could hardly have been moredifferent. Captain George Starr commanded networks of résistants insouthwest France, cutting German communications, destroying weaponsfactories, and delaying the arrival of Nazi troops to Normandy byseventeen days after D-Day. Younger brother Lieutenant John Starrlaid groundwork for resistance in the Burgundy countryside until hewas betrayed, captured, tortured, and imprisoned by the Nazis inFrance and sent to a series of concentration camps in Germany andAustria. Feats of boldness and bravado were many, but appallingscandals, including George's supposed torture and execution ofNazis prisoners, and John's alleged collaboration with his Germancaptors, overshadowed them all. At the war's end, Britain, France,and the United States awarded both brothers medals for heroism, andGeorge would become one of only three among thousands of SOEoperatives to achieve the rank of colonel. Yet, their battle honorsdid little to allay postwar allegations against them, and when theyreturned to England, their government accused both brothers ofheinous war crimes.Here, for the first time, is the story of one of the greatclandestine organizations of World War II, and of two heroicbrothers whose ordeals during and after the war challenged theaccepted myths of Britain's wartime resistance in occupied France.Written with complete and unrivaled access to only recentlydeclassified documents from Britain's SOE files, French archives,family letters, diaries, and court records, along with interviewsfrom surviving wartime Resistance fighters, They Fought Alone is areal-life thriller. Renowned journalist and war correspondentCharles Glass exposes a dramatic tale of spies, sabotage, and thedaring men and women who risked everything to change the course ofWorld War II.