Destination Casablanca Exile, espionage, and the battle for North Africa in World War II

Meredith Hindley

Book - 2017

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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 940.5423/Hindley Checked In
New York : PublicAffairs 2017.
First Edition
Physical Description
xviii, 491 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 473-480) and index.
Main Author
Meredith Hindley (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Casablanca, Morocco's main seaport, serves as historian Hindley's stage set for her narrative of WWII political intrigues and military battles for control of the then-French colony. Revolving around the activities of French officials, her account tracks their posture toward the Vichy government that nominally ruled Morocco in the wake of France's defeat by Germany in 1940. The supreme authority was Resident-General Charles Noguès, whose gyrations indicate both why a postwar French court convicted him of collaborating with the Nazis and why Hindley offers a fresh perspective on his political predicament. An influx of thousands of refugees fleeing German conquests further complicated matters, providing Hindley with such arresting cases as those of entertainer Josephine Baker and novelist Arthur Koestler and supplying Hollywood with characters for the famous movie Casablanca. Alluding to the classic film, Hindley notes its simplifications of the real-life Casablanca, which, teeming with stateless exiles and spies, became a war zone with the American landings of November 1942 and then a conference location for FDR, Churchill, and Charles de Gaulle. A fine and faithful work of historical reconstruction. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

The Moroccan city of Casablanca became a setting for danger and courage after the German conquest of France during World War II. Here, historian Hindley brings the political, military, and human stories of the area to life. In the early years of the conflict, refugees sought safety from Hitler and Nazi Germany while rival French military and political factions jockeyed for power. The U.S. entry into the war brought the fighting to Casablanca in Operation Torch, a massive amphibious invasion in November 1941, which quickly led to Anglo-American control. The next major event for the city was a January 1943 conference, where U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt and British prime minister Winston Churchill solidified their alliance. Hindley's warm, detailed writing style portrays the determination and resources that America brought to Casablanca, the continuing plight of refugees, the stirrings of Moroccan nationalism, and the moving saga of American singer Josephine Baker's support for a free France. Extensively researched, this account is rife with personal accounts, political and diplomatic insights, and vivid depictions of the military process. VERDICT Recommended for history buffs who will relish the author's skilled presentation of a little-known theater in World War II.—Elizabeth Hayford, formerly with Associated Coll. of the Midwest, Evanston, IL Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Filled with rogue soldiers, power grabs and diplomatic intrigue, a captivating and untold story of Casablanca, the glamorous city memorialized in the classic film, at the heart of World War II shows how this exotic travel destination became a crucial logistical hub in the fight against Germany. 30,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Discusses how Casablanca became a crucial logistical hub in the fight against Germany during World War II.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

This rollicking and panoramic history of Casablanca during the Second World War sheds light on the city as a key hub for European and American powers, and a place where spies, soldiers, and political agents exchanged secrets and vied for control. In November 1942, as a part of Operation Torch, 33,000 American soldiers sailed undetected across the Atlantic and stormed the beaches of French Morocco. Seventy-four hours later, the Americans controlled the country and one of the most valuable wartime ports: Casablanca. In the years preceding, Casablanca had evolved from an exotic travel destination to a key military target after France's surrender to Germany. Jewish refugees from Europe poured in, hoping to obtain visas and passage to the United States and beyond. Nazi agents and collaborators infiltrated the city in search of power and loyalty. The resistance was not far behind, as shopkeepers, celebrities, former French Foreign Legionnaires, and disgruntled bureaucrats formed a network of Allied spies. But once in American hands, Casablanca became a crucial logistical hub in the fight against Germany -- and the site of Roosevelt and Churchill's demand for "unconditional surrender." Rife with rogue soldiers, power grabs, and diplomatic intrigue, Destination Casablanca is the riveting and untold story of this glamorous city--memorialized in the classic film that was rush-released in 1942 to capitalize on the drama that was unfolding in North Africa at the heart of World War II.