Scholars of Mayhem: My Father's Secret War in Nazi-Occupied France

Scholars of Mayhem: My Father's Secret War in Nazi-Occupied France Review

The astonishing untold story of the author's father, the lone American on a 4-person SOE commando team dropped behind German lines in France, whose epic feats of irregular warfare proved vital in keeping Nazi tanks away from Normandy after D-Day.

When Daniel Guiet was a child and his family moved country, as they frequently did, his father had one possession, a tin bread box, that always made the trip. Daniel was admonished never to touch the box, but one day he couldn't resist. What he found astonished him: a .45 automatic and five full clips; three slim knives; a length of wire with a wooden handle at each end; thin pieces of paper with random numbers on them; several passports with his father's photograph, each bearing a different name; and a large silk square with eight flags, with a message underneath each flag in the language corresponding to it. The one in English read: "I am an American. Help me. You will be well paid."

Eventually Jean Claude Guiet revealed to his family that he had been in the CIA, but it was only at the very end of his life that he spoke of the mission during World War II that marked the beginning of his career in clandestine service. It is one of the last great untold stories of the war, and Daniel Guiet and his collaborator, the writer Tim Smith, have spent several years bringing it to life. Jean Claude was an American citizen but a child of France, and fluent in the language; he was also extremely bright. The American military was on the lookout for native French speakers to be seconded to a secret British special operations commando operation, dropping saboteurs behind German lines in France to coordinate aid to the French Resistance and lead missions wreaking havoc on Germany's military efforts across the entire country. Jean Claude was recruited, and his life was changed forever. Though the human cost was terrible, the mission succeeded beyond the Allies' wildest dreams.

Scholars of Mayhem tells the story of Jean Claude and the other three agents in his "circuit," codenamed Salesman, a unit of Britain's Special Operations Executive, the secret service ordered by Churchill to "Set Europe ablaze." Parachuted into France the day after D-Day, the Salesman team organized, armed, and commanded a ghostly army of 10,000 French Resistance fighters. National pride has kept the story of SOE in France obscure, but of this there is no doubt: While the Resistance had plenty of heart, it was SOE that gave it teeth and claws. Scholars of Mayhem adds brilliantly to that picture, and further underscores what a close-run thing the success of the Allied breakout from the Normandy landings actually was.

Title:Scholars of Mayhem: My Father's Secret War in Nazi-Occupied France

    Scholars of Mayhem: My Father's Secret War in Nazi-Occupied France Reviews

  • Peter A

    This book, co-written by the son, tells the story of Jean Claude Guiet during his days preparing for and serving in a team of Special Operations Executive commandos in German occupied France right aft...

  • Steve

    An excellent as well as an interesting book. I enjoy reading about World War II spies and this one as well as the others was great!!! The author's father, Jean Claude Guiet was a American citizen, but...

  • Joop Debruin

    I grew up next door to a couple, he was an American and she was French. Both were Jews. I knew he was originally in the OSS, and parachuted behind enemy lines into France, and that's where he met her....

  • Max

    Jean Claude Guiet is a real-life super hero. How could a 20 year old American go behind enemy lines during the D-Day invasion and help defeat the Nazi occupation in France? He did and with no recognit...

  • Pamela

    I won this book from the Goodreads giveaway. Scholars of Mayhem tells the story of Jean Claude, an agent in France during WWII. I found it very educational. This is a part of history I knew little abo...

  • PWRL

    SM...

  • Susan's Books

    This book was interesting in that it covered something I'd never read about before. However, it bogged down in places & I don't think I would have missed out on much by not reading it....

  • Robert Mund

    Always prefer true stories and this has the intrigue of a spy novel but at times gets bogged down in to much detail of which i have no interest...

  • John Dolbee

    Book went by very fast. A great story that I wish was expanded on even more during the war and past his involvement in Europe. Great read....

  • Milo Geyelin

    This is first-rate reporting, historical reconstruction and writing. It’s a remarkable story, terrifically and lovingly told. I can’t recommend it highly enough. ...