Eighty years ago on September 1, 1939 World War Two broke out. Today, we talk about a new novel and a surprising biography that illumine important but lesser known stories about that conflict: Julie Orringerâ€™s acclaimed novel, The Flight Portfolio and Robert Matzenâ€™s fascinating biography of the young Audrey Hepburn and her work with the Dutch Resistance against the Nazis, Dutch Girl.
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In 1940, a young American named Varian Fry traveled to Marseilles France carrying three thousand dollars and a list of imperiled artists and writers he hoped to help escape within a few weeks. Instead, he stayed more than a year.
A real life Mission Impossible, Varian Fryâ€™s work for the International Rescue Committee, which he co-founded, saved more than 2,000 Jewish artists, writers and scholars from almost certain death at the hands of the Nazis â€” figures like Marc Chagall, Hannah Arendt and Arthur Koestler. They went on to enrich their adopted land, the United States, with their work.
The organization Fry co-founded is still active today, helping tens of thousands of refugees fleeing violence and persecution.
Fry had a secret that may have helped him empathize with the persecution faced by those he rescued: he was gay.
The two parallel stories â€” his rescue operation and his sexual orientation â€” and the connection between them are explored in Julie Orringerâ€™s new novel, The Flight Portfolio.
Orringer is a bestselling novelist; The Flight Portfolio is her fourth book.
Audrey Hepburn achieved fame and fortune as a Hollywood movie star.
But did you know that she took part in the Dutch resistance against the Nazis? As a teenager?
Thatâ€™s the fascinating story Robert Matzen reveals in his page-turning biography of Hepburn in World War II, Dutch Girl.
The third and final book in Matzenâ€™s â€˜Hollywood in WWIIâ€™ Trilogyâ€”previous books in the series are about Carole Lombard and Jimmy Stewartâ€”Matzenâ€™s biography of Hepburn tells an extraordinary story of courage, tragedy, perseverance, and triumph under the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.