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Wine and War


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For the first time the story of wartime France is told through the eyes and actions of those involved with France's most precious crop.

About the Author

Until his retirement in 1997, Donald Kladstrup was one of America's most distinguished network correspondents. He and his wife, Petie Kladstrup, have made Paris and Normandy their home for decades and are widely published on French Wine. Their articles have appeared in The Wine Spectator, among other magazines.


Both contributors to Wine Spectator, the Kladstrups Don, a distinguished journalist and former TV news correspondent, and his wife, Petie, a freelance writer have unearthed and compiled an array of facts and anecdotes about the significance of French wine to the French and to their enemies and the role of French winemakers during WWII. Basing their account on interviews with survivors and other research, the authors focus on the activities of five winemaking families in Burgundy, Alsace, Champagne, Bordeaux and the Loire Valley. When France fell to Hitler, the Reich sent German wine merchants (whom the French referred to as weinfhrers) to buy as much good French wine as possible and resell it at a large profit. Some Frenchmen, such as Louis Eschenauer (who, after the war, was tried for economic collaboration with the enemy, found guilty and sent to prison), were more than willing to do business with the enemy, but most not only resisted German occupation but also refused to give up their prized vintages to the Germans. For example, though displaced from their chƒteau by German soldiers, the Miaihles family made painstaking efforts first to relocate and then to hide some Jewish friends and later helped them escape to Argentina. To get even with the Germans who stole his wine, Jean-Michel Chevreau siphoned wine from barrels that were being shipped to Germany and refilled them with water. Although their book makes for an engaging read, the Kladstrups have organized their material in a rambling manner, which, unfortunately, makes the many names and events discussed easy to confuse. (May 15) Forecast: There will be major review coverage; the authors will make appearances in the San Francisco Bay Area and NPR's Morning Edition has fallen into line. Yet one wonders whether any but the most dedicated oenophiles will care for a book-length account of how France's wines were saved from the Nazis. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

'A sprightly and amusing book, full of spicy anecdotes' -- Evening Standard 'Entertaining and informative' -- Sunday Telegraph 'A vibrant panorama of the different wine-producing regions and how they responded to the challenge' -- Sunday Express

Husband-and-wife journalists and contributors to Wine Spectator, the Kladstrups recount the dangerous and daring exploits of those who fought to keep France's greatest treasure out of the hands of the Nazis. Whether they were fobbing off inferior wines on the Germans, hiding precious vintages behind hastily constructed walls, sabotaging shipments being sent out of France, or even sneaking people out of the country in wine barrels, the French proved to be remarkably versatile when it came to protecting their beloved wine. The authors craft a compelling read that shifts back and forth between individual tales of bravery, including those of five prominent wine-making families, and the bigger story of how World War II affected the French wine industry. This history should prove popular with readers who appreciated other books detailing the Nazis' looting of treasures, such as Tom Bower's Nazi Gold (LJ 5/15/97) and Hector Feliciano's The Lost Museum (LJ 8/97). Recommended for public and academic libraries. John Charles, Scottsdale P.L., AZ Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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