The Cost of Courage

Publication Date: Apr 25, 2017

304 pp

Trade Paperback

List Price US $15.95
Trim Size (H x W): 5.5 x 8.25
ISBN: 978-1-59051-839-7


List Price US $26.95
Trim Size (H x W): 5.5 x 8.25
ISBN: 978-1-59051-614-0


List Price US $26.95
ISBN: 978-1-59051-615-7

“The result is a mix of history, biography and memoir which reads like a nerve-racking thriller.” —The Guardian (US)

This heroic true story of the three youngest children of a bourgeois Catholic family who worked together in the French Resistance is told by an American writer who has known and admired the family for five decades

In the autumn of 1943, André Boulloche became de Gaulle’s military delegate in Paris, coordinating all the Resistance movements in the nine northern regions of France only to be betrayed by one of his associates, arrested, wounded by the Gestapo, and taken prisoner. His sisters carried on the fight without him until the end of the war. André survived three concentration camps and later became a prominent French politician who devoted the rest of his life to reconciliation of France and Germany. His parents and oldest brother were arrested and shipped off on the last train from Paris to Germany before the liberation, and died in the camps. Since then, silence has been the Boulloches’s answer to dealing with the unbearable. This is the first time the family has cooperated with an author to recount their extraordinary ordeal.

Excerpt from The Cost of Courage

André is a handsome twenty-eight-year-old with brown hair and thick eyebrows that hover over a permanent glint in his eye.  Nearly six feet tall, he walks with a tempered, youthful swagger.  Before the war, friends considered him something of a dandy.
André has been ordered back to occupied France by Charles de Gaulle, to be the general’s personal military delegate in Paris.  Pseudonym: Armand; code name:  Hypotenuse; André’s charge from the renegade general is to bring some order to the burgeoning Resistance movements now operating in eleven different departments in northern France…Like everyone in the Resistance arriving from England, he also carries a cyanide pill in his pants pocket.  It will stay there, always–unless he is arrested.  When he touches it with his index finger, it feels like insurance against torture.  Or, perhaps, like his destiny.  Either way, he knows he will swallow it if he is captured by the Germans.
A certain fatalism fuels his fearlessness.  But there is one irony that probably escapes him: the only thing that might muffle his heroism could be his own survival.

“A former reporter and award-winning author rescues the almost unbelievable account of one family’s experience in Nazi-occupied France. Between the cruel caricature of a nation of collaborators and the purposeful, Charles de Gaulle-promoted myth of a country full of valiant resisters lies the truth for most of the French during World War II. In the same manner a young girl’s diary once vivified the Holocaust and the fate of 6 million for a postwar audience, Kaiser (The Gay Metropolis: 1940-1996, 1997, etc.) tells, through the Boulloche family, the story of lives turned complicated by the bizarre realities of Vichy France. He fills us in first on the toll World War I took on France, on the Boulloche family pedigree, and on the iconoclastic, republican spirit of the parents, Jacques and Hélène. Although by no means pro-German and for honorable reasons of their own, neither they nor their oldest son joined the Resistance. Nevertheless, their arrests, deportations, and deaths in the infamous internment camps all resulted from their silent approval of the decision by André and sisters Christiane and Jacqueline to actively oppose the Nazi occupation. Hitler, Eisenhower, Patton, Churchill, Roosevelt, and, of course, de Gaulle appear frequently in the background of this narrative and help supply just enough historical information to orient readers. In the foreground always, though, are the young Boulloches and their close confederates. Smuggling arms, recruiting friends, gathering information, enduring torture, tales of escape, secret knocks, Gestapo interrogations, fortuitous encounters, sabotage missions, clandestine apartments—all are part of their story. Their resolve and bravery and even the “romance” of their exploits are plain to readers but not to the survivors who knew too well the price the family paid. For 50 years they remained, even to their own children, largely silent about all of it. Thanks to a family connection forged in the war’s immediate wake, Kaiser has managed to gather all the painful details, and he assembles them masterfully. At once heroic and heartbreaking, this story leaves an indelible mark.” —Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

“Charles Kaiser’s The Cost of Courage combines a thorough and quite accessible history of Europe’s six-year murderous paroxysm with a deftly told story…[a] stimulating book…[It] documents, through the life of an extraordinary family, one of the 20th century’s most fascinating events—the German occupation of the City of Light. But it is also a subtle history of the complexity of the French Resistance and its legacies.” The Wall Street Journal

“[The Cost of Courage] is a mix of history, biography and memoir which reads like a nerve-racking thriller.” The Guardian (US)

“Kaiser reveals the moral ambiguity of resistance when one’s enemy is as ruthless as Nazi Germany…[He] makes the most of the inherent drama in the story he tells, but his touchstone is his relentless search for truth amid the fog of war…brilliant. ” —The Washington Post

“Moving…Compelling…a story with the detailed intimacy of a journal and the powerful immediacy of a novel.”—The Christian Science Monitor

“Dramatic…The Cost of Courage admirably explores the dynamics of a painful reckoning.” —Newsday

“[A]  vivid family portrait that examines four siblings’ heroic contribution to the French resistance of WWII…a riveting paean to unsung war heroes in occupied France.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“[R]emarkable…a story of recovery and resilience…The Cost of Courage is a poignant reminder that there are many untold stories of World War II, but that those who lived them will soon be gone.” —BookPage

“Kaiser has expertly interwoven historical facts about World War II–particularly what the British, Americans and French were doing to fight the Germans–with the personal narratives of the Boulloche family and of some of their closest friends to create a well-rounded, behind-the-scenes portrayal of their wartime lives.” —Shelf Awareness

“[Charles Kaiser’s] effort has produced a wonderful history, reading like a spy novel while serving as a testament to the efforts of many French men and women in their fight for freedom. The Cost of Courage vividly and eloquently recreates the heroism of many through the eyes of one French family.” —

“[R]iveting… Charles Kaiser captures the devotion the brother and two sisters have for one another and their extended family.” —The Missourian

“The Cost of Courage is both a history and a morality tale, the story on one level of the Boulloche family and the risks they both took and did not take to preserve their lives and their integrity. It is also a key chapter in the history of France under German occupation, when some citizens, fired by patriotism, risked all to resist the Nazis—as the nation split between occupied and Vichy, southern France—while others survived by sitting on their hands. Both, in tragic ways, paid the cost of their decisions.” —America Magazine

The Cost of Courage is good history, loving biography, excellent reporting. It turns out the cost of courage is beyond the means of most of us.” —Edmund White, author of Inside a Pearl

“Even now, almost three quarters of a century after the second world war, the role played by the French resistance in German occupied and Vichy France is often overlooked. Charles Kaiser has not only unearthed the story of an extraordinary family, but set it against a world in which courage, selflessness and resilience were of greater importance than personal survival and collaboration, however trivial. It makes for a fascinating book.” —Caroline Moorehead, author of A Train In Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance In Occupied France

“In this poignant personal tale, Kaiser explores the emotions and breaks through the silences that haunted an amazing family after their experiences in the French resistance to Nazi occupation. The result is a compelling and heart-wrenching book about courage, love, and the complex shadings of heroism.” —Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs

“One legacy of the Nazi occupation of France was secrecy, a shield that long hid the heroism of resisters no less than the shame of collaborators. In this gripping true-life drama, Charles Kaiser reveals the long-buried story of one prosperous Parisian family that paid a high price for the bravery of its children. Until now, only through silence could they live with the painful cost of their courage.” —Alan Riding, author of And The Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris

“A very compelling story.” —Robert O. Paxton, author of Vichy France

“Charles Kaiser deserves a Legion of Honor red ribbon for bringing to vibrant life the suspenseful, never-before-told true story of a family’s courage, suffering and ultimate triumph amid the existential dangers and challenges of the French Resistance.  Chapeau!” —Hendrik Hertzberg, author of Politics: Observations & Arguments, 1966-2004

“Charles Kaiser has written a compelling and riveting history of one French family and their sacrifices as they resisted the German occupation of France. Andre, Christiane, and Jacqueline  Boulloche saw it as their duty to repel the German invaders to the best of their ability. Ultimately their participation in the resistance movement resulted in the loss of their parents and older brother, Robert, to concentration camps. For fifty years the harrowing details of their experiences were kept secret and not even discussed within the family. Only in the last few years has Christiane, the last surviving sibling, finally told her story. This narrative is intense and gripping. An important read in understanding the depth of French Resistance during WWII. I loved it!” —Stephanie Crowe, Page & Palette (Fairhope, AL)

“This personal perspective on World War II history and the French Resistance will hold both well-read armchair historians and casual readers rapt. With a journalist’s deft balance of emotional weight and historical fact, Kaiser details the heretofore untold story of the Boulloche family; how the sisters risked their lives carrying out clandestine assignments for the Resistance at home while their brother underwent excruciating journeys in defense of his country that found him in three concentration camps. I found myself reading portions of this book aloud in both disbelief and awe of what this family risked, what they confronted and what they endured. From the first pages, as he introduces his personal connection to the family and their story, Kaiser holds readers close to their fight for freedom, and to their loss. Books like The Cost of Courage are invaluable for crystallizing the horrible truths of World War II as they played out in the lives of those who could not escape it. Heart-breaking, important reading.” —Julie Wernersbach, BookPeople (Austin, TX)

“Great stories can sometimes wait generations to be told, and for those of us around to hear them, the reward can be astounding. Such a reward is found in The Cost of Courage—a book that brings a terribly personal narrative of the French Resistance to light at a time when so few witnesses of that dark period of world history are left. Charles Kaiser tells of the sacrifices made by the Boulloche family through the eyes of the last remaining survivor, and through his personal connection to the family, a story emerges that is well worth hearing and remembering.” —Nick Raschella, Terrace Books (Brooklyn, NY)

Praise for The Gay Metropolis:

“A dramatic, often affecting account of the emergence of gay people from fear and self-hatred into uncloseted, self-confident participation in society.” —The Washington Post

“Truly sensational…This book should be read by thousands of young men and women who think they are alone. Charles Kaiser’s sensational book will give them heart and pride.” —Ed Koch