Book Review: Wine and War

I picked up ‘Wine and War’ at Capitol Hill Books near my house. This secondhand bookstore is a bibliophile’s dream…and a fireman’s nightmare. Floor to ceiling, the store is stuffed with books and has that great musty ‘old book’ smell. Originally a townhouse, there are tiny narrow paths (you really shouldn’t bring in a big bag like I did) that weave through the various sections, books overflowing from the shelves. The bathroom houses the foreign language section. The old kitchen has become the section for classics. There is an attempt at alphabetizing but it really doesn’t get past the first letter of the last name – Jane Austen could be right in front of Louisa May Alcott – and that suits everyone just fine.

The history sections of the store are treasure troves. I am not even sure how I found ‘Wine and War’ – I certainly wasn’t looking for it (you don’t go in there with a specific title in mind). It just popped out at me. Seven dollars later, I had a new title to add to my long history reading list. It was such a unique topic, I put it at the top of the list and settled down to read. With a glass of wine, of course.

Wine and War: The French, the Nazis and the Battle for France’s Greatest Treasure
By Don and Petie Kladstrup

We all remember learning about World War II in high school history. But never had I heard mention of wine and its own drawn-out battle during the war.

The authors did an excellent job of telling a broad story line through the lens of different families involved in wine-making and wine distribution, including both the French and German perspectives. Their research was primarily from interviews with people who were directly involved, which made it all the more appealing.

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