Thursday, January 10, 2008

Simon Kitson's "The Hunt for Nazi Spies"

Simon Kitson is Senior Lecturer in the French Studies department at Birmingham University.

He applied the "Page 99 Test" to his new book, The Hunt for Nazi Spies: Fighting Espionage in Vichy France, and reported the following:
I’d like to be able to state that page 99 was written in the same inimitable style as the rest of my book, equally reminiscent of Shakespeare at his best yet with the ready accessibility of Harry Potter novels! But that would be a lie. Of 37 lines on page 99, only 15 are my own. This does not mean that the rest were plagiarised. But this page contains two long quotations extracted from administrative reports. That is totally untypical. I hate long quotations and I loath the style of administrative reports which are usually as dry as a camel’s jacuzzi. But I still want to salvage Ford Madox Ford’s reputation as I think with such a name he can’t be a bad guy. So I’ll happily report that his quotation does seem relevant since page 99 touches on many of the themes of the book. My monograph deals with espionage and counter-espionage in World War Two. It reassesses the relationship between the German occupation authorities and the collaborating ‘Vichy’ government highlighting the diplomatic strains caused by French attempts to preserve their independence. Ultimately it shows that the effectiveness of Vichy’s attempts to preserve sovereignty was undermined by a desire not to compromise state collaboration. Page 99 also hints that I’m interested in the personal histories of those accused of espionage. How well the book tackles the above themes, or indeed how far my style is reminiscent of Shakespeare or Harry Potter, will be up to the reader to decide. But one thing that page 99 cannot reveal is that my book is currently heavily discounted at certain online bookstores. And to that highly commercial note I’d just add that page 122 is my own personal favourite but that it only makes sense if you read the other 163 pages of text!
Read an excerpt from The Hunt for Nazi Spies and learn more about the book at the University of Chicago Press website.

Learn more about Simon Kitson's research interests and other publications at his faculty webpage.

--Marshal Zeringue