by Robert Gildea (Faber & Faber, £20) The Resistance movement is at the very heart of France’s national identity. The story is familiar: General Charles de Gaulle, transmitting by radio from London into occupied France, kept the flame of Free France alive, sending agents in by parachute to fight the occupying Nazis. Like all of the most enduring myths, it has the advantage of being partly true. But as this new history reveals, the myth ignores much, offering only the narrowest picture of a complex collection of groups, few of which felt any allegiance to the general. There were Jewish resisters, communist groups and women. There was a large contingent of foreigners, including republican Spaniards driven north into France after their Civil War defeat. There were eastern Europeans, Russian deserters and even some Germans. Many resisters suffered appalling deaths, either at the hands of the Gestapo, or the collaborating French paramilitary police force, the detested Milice. Resistance extended to France’s colonies in both north and west Africa, where the allegiance of colonial army officers shifted between de Gaulle and Marshal Pétain, only settling on de Gaulle after the Allied invasion of north Africa in 1942. When the war ended, this complexity was stripped back into the straightforward story of French fortitude, embodied in the figure of de Gaulle. This admirable history goes some way to restoring the more complex truth of the men and women of the resistance whose background and motivation varied more than the myth would have you believe.