Friday, September 18, 2015

by Hal Vaughan 

Dr. Sumner Waldron Jackson (originally from Maine) was the Medical Director of the American Hospital of Paris during World War II. Known as Dr. Jack, he was revered by both his staff and his patients. When Paris became occupied by the Nazis, he, his wife, Toquette, and their son, Phillip, could have left to return to the United States, but they didn't. Instead, they joined the French Resistance. At the age of fifteen, Phillip thought that it was all a "game."  His parents knew otherwise. If they were caught, they would be arrested, or deported, or worse. So Phillip delivered clandestine mail around Paris (he was fifteen at the time), his father hid men wanted by the SS in hospital beds, and their apartment at Foch Avenue was used as a courier center.
I first heard about Dr. Jackson from another book called Avenue of Spies by Alex Kershaw. There wasn't a whole lot of information on the doctor, plus it wasn't well-written, it was boring, and repetitive. While reading reviews on Amazon about Kershaw's book, a commentator mentioned Hal Vaughan's superior tale. As soon as I began reading it, I knew immediately that it was much better and much more interesting.
There have been many books written about World War II, but Doctor to the Resistance is quite fascinating as it goes into in-depth details about what Paris looked like and how it acted during the Occupation. On top of that, you have an American family that could have escaped but willingly joined the Resistance, because they knew that the Nazis would be defeated.
One of the most disturbing chapters in the book is called "SS Death Ships." These huge barges gathered up thousands of concentration camp prisoners as the allies were moving in. Lubeck Bay would become one of history's greatest maritime disasters. I never heard of this before in all of the hundreds of books that I have read about the Holocaust. 
Doctor to the Resistance is quite a story. Hal Vaughan certainly knows how to do impressive research, especially since he dug up information that hasn't been written anywhere else. Luckily for him and for us, he was able to interview Phillip, who had plenty of documents and photos.
A very good read.