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

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

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...

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Title:Scholars of Mayhem: My Father's Secret War in Nazi-Occupied France
Author:Daniel C. Guiet
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Edition Language:English

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

  • Michelle

    Scholar (noun): a specialist in a particular branch of study, especially the humanities; a distinguished academic.

    Mayhem (noun): violent or damaging disorder; chaos.

    Scholars of Mayhem is the story of Jean Claude Guiet, an American-born child of French parents who joined the army at 18 years old to fight during World War II. Jean Claude wanted to be a paratrooper; because of his language skills he got drafted into the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), and was then transf

    Scholar (noun): a specialist in a particular branch of study, especially the humanities; a distinguished academic.

    Mayhem (noun): violent or damaging disorder; chaos.

    Scholars of Mayhem is the story of Jean Claude Guiet, an American-born child of French parents who joined the army at 18 years old to fight during World War II. Jean Claude wanted to be a paratrooper; because of his language skills he got drafted into the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), and was then transferred to the SOE, Britain's version of the same. His mission: as a secret agent and wireless operator, disappear behind enemy lines on D-Day and keep the Germans away from the beaches by causing as much mayhem as possible.

    I stayed up until 1:30 a.m. finish to this book. This group was on the cutting edge of technology. They had weapons in every conceivable form and they were always looking for new ways to combat the enemy. Reading it made me realize how much of our world has changed since this war, and how so many of these things wouldn't be possible with today's technology.

    The book was so well written. I really appreciated how concise it was, the story was constantly moving me through Guiet's war. It's amazing what he was able to accomplish in the short time he was behind enemy lines in France. I'd never read this portion of the war's history before. I highly recommend for any WWII history fans out there.

  • 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.

  • 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 born in France. He was recruited by the British SOE to set up operations behind enemy lines in France before the D Day invasion. This book tells of the training and well as the weapons used by the SOE such as daggers and the Welrod pistol, specialized with a silencer for close quarters. Many of the

    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 born in France. He was recruited by the British SOE to set up operations behind enemy lines in France before the D Day invasion. This book tells of the training and well as the weapons used by the SOE such as daggers and the Welrod pistol, specialized with a silencer for close quarters. Many of the agents, were captured and tortured as well as imprisoned. Many were executed. This has been a great book and tells of the risks and courage of those who served in the SOE and other spy and guerrilla agencies in World War II.

  • 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. However as I got older and learned more history, there were still some questions that I had about facts not lining up. Not to say their sons lied about anything, but it didn't match what I was learning about the OSS. This book clearly shows that they were both involved in the COE. In fact, I went b

    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. However as I got older and learned more history, there were still some questions that I had about facts not lining up. Not to say their sons lied about anything, but it didn't match what I was learning about the OSS. This book clearly shows that they were both involved in the COE. In fact, I went back to check her obituary from a few years ago, and it stated that her family moved to England to escape the Nazis, and made no mention of her behind-the-scenes activities. I'm pretty sure that I never heard about her living in England at any point. Hence the COE tie in and clarification of a few bits that I didn't understand.

  • 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 recognition, from the France or the United States. An astonishing story about the infancy of the CIA (then the OSS) and how these brave men and women served because it was the right thing to do.

  • 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 after D-Day. The team consisted of four members: Philippe Liewer, Violette Szabo (about whom there is a book and a movie “Carve Her Name with Pride”), Bob Maloubier, and Jen Claude Guiet.

    The story is told simply, yet at times conveys the tension of nearly being caught by the enemy or absorbed in a fir

    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 after D-Day. The team consisted of four members: Philippe Liewer, Violette Szabo (about whom there is a book and a movie “Carve Her Name with Pride”), Bob Maloubier, and Jen Claude Guiet.

    The story is told simply, yet at times conveys the tension of nearly being caught by the enemy or absorbed in a fire-fight between the French maquisards and Germans. And at times, with some of the characters, their descriptions of the adventures almost feel like they are understating the danger they were in. As noted below, this understatement of accomplishments may be an attributed of the “Greatest Generation”.

    The story is told in three phases: the first roughly sets up the story of the other team members; the second talks about Jean Claude and his training and preparation for the special mission; and the final section on the operation, named Salesman II, which was intended to slow movement of German troupes from the south of France to Normandy by recruiting, organizing, arming and directly local French maquisards to disrupt the German operations.

    The epilogue talks of what happened after the Salesman operation. The contribution of this book is to bring forward the story of people who agreed to put their lives at risk for a greater cause. Normally, the life of the commando behind enemy lines, especially the radio expert, was about three weeks. Capture by the Germans very likely led to death. And those experiences, are often never told, both because of the agreements made and because at that age, the horrors of war were not shared. [An uncle of mine never talked about his experiences in the European theater.]

    As a disclaimer, I received an advanced copy of this book to read because an editor at Penguin read my review of Sonia Purnell’s “A Woman of No Importance” about Virginia Hall. It is hard to avoid comparison between the stories, since both Virginia Hall and Jean Claude Guiet served in SOE operations, and later CIA, both served in the center of France, one in/around Lyon, one in/around Limoges. Virginia Hall’s story covers more of her life, and how she overcame physical disabilities and gender biases, and how she was in France twice. As for Jean Claude’s story, what is amazing is that his son learned about this when his father was quite old, and what a revelation that must have been. Based on the epilogue, there is still more to told about Jean Claude’s life, and his strong stances on certain issues such as gender equity and the Vietnam war. Finally, both Virginia Hall and Jean Claude Guiet were forever modest (or silent) about the roles they played in the Second World War, that “Greatest Generation”, named by Tom Brokaw’s book of that title.

    As a final note, the Scholars of Mayhem does include interesting sections that add context about the war. These were very appreciated.

  • Lewestover

    I've read books about the French resistance forces in WW II. This true story, however, opened my eyes to the work done by the British (and other Allied nations) in strengthening those forces during the critical time surrounding D-Day. I had not idea that a 20-year old American played a vital role in the success of those efforts. It was a fascinating read for me.

  • 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 about. There are so few WWII veterans alive and I think it is important to hear their stories and have them preserved in history for the future.

  • Richard Santos

    We will never run out of amazing World War II stories. Ever. Daniel Guiet wrote an exciting, personal book about his father who (as a covert agent for Churchill’s “Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare”) played a key role in helping organize the French Resistance. Although, in some ways, his father’s life after WWII (weird CIA stuff, odd defense contractor jobs, resisting the Vietnam War) is just as compelling.

    I interviewed the author here:

  • Wes Jones

    My attention was never grabbed when I was reading this book. I was really looking forward to the story, and think if I went back and read it again it might be better. It is a cool WWII story and for those who like war books you should read this one. However, it just didn't live up to my expectations for it.

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