Paper Bullets

Two Artists Who Risked Their Lives to Defy the Nazis


By Jeffrey H. Jackson

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“A Nazi resistance story like none you’ve ever heard or read.” —Hampton Sides, author of Ghost Soldiers and On Desperate Ground

"Every page is gripping, and the amount of new research is nothing short of mind-boggling. A brilliant book for the ages!” —Douglas Brinkley, author of American Moonshot 

A Stonewall Honor Book in Nonfiction
Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction

Paper Bullets is the first book to tell the history of an audacious anti-Nazi campaign undertaken by an unlikely pair: two French women, Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe, who drew on their skills as Parisian avant-garde artists to write and distribute “paper bullets”—wicked insults against Hitler, calls to rebel, and subversive fictional dialogues designed to demoralize Nazi troops occupying their adopted home on the British Channel Island of Jersey. Devising their own PSYOPS campaign, they slipped their notes into soldier’s pockets or tucked them inside newsstand magazines.

Hunted by the secret field police, Lucy and Suzanne were finally betrayed in 1944, when the Germans imprisoned them, and tried them in a court martial, sentencing them to death for their actions. Ultimately they survived, but even in jail, they continued to fight the Nazis by reaching out to other prisoners and spreading a message of hope.

Better remembered today by their artist names, Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, the couple’s actions were even more courageous because of who they were: lesbian partners known for cross-dressing and creating the kind of gender-bending work that the Nazis would come to call “degenerate art.” In addition, Lucy was half Jewish, and they had communist affiliations in Paris, where they attended political rallies with Surrealists and socialized with artists like Gertrude Stein.

Paper Bullets is a compelling World War II story that has not been told before, about the galvanizing power of art, and of resistance.



Learning To Resist


"Jealous, Exclusive Passion"

Paris in the 1920s

In 1920, Lucy And Suzanne boarded the train heading for Paris, bags in hand, two women striking out on their own. As they watched the countryside roll by, they were surely thinking about the family they were leaving behind in Nantes. Lucy, twenty-six, and Suzanne, twenty-eight, carried with them the financial support of their wealthy families—Lucy's father was a newspaper publisher, and Suzanne's was a highly respected doctor and medical educator—along with the confidence that comes when heading to familiar territory. Paris had been a second home for many years. They traveled to see friends or go to museums or shows, and Lucy's uncle, Marcel Schwob, a well-known writer and influential literary figure, and his famous actress wife, Marguerite Moreno, had introduced them to the city's creative community. As comfortable as they were in Paris, Lucy and Suzanne knew this was their time to make a different life on their own, together.

Paris had turned dark, quiet, and cold during the years of World War I; fighting along the front lines raged only a few miles away. Bombs falling from German Zeppelins damaged parts of the capital, and the tight rationing of food and fuel made life extremely difficult for Parisians. With more deaths per capita in France than in any other combatant country, the war profoundly scarred the French psyche. France buried nearly an entire generation of men, and most who lived had fought at Verdun or the Somme, two brutal months-long battles in 1916 that left survivors suffering from shell shock. When Lucy and Suzanne's train pulled into the station in Paris, two years after the armistice, they could see the changes the war had wrought on the city. The whole nation still suffered from a recession as businesses struggled to reorient themselves to a peacetime economy.

The war also touched the Schwob and Malherbe families directly. Their sons and brothers went off to the trenches, along with some seven thousand other men from Nantes. Lucy and Suzanne's hometown became a haven for many fleeing the war zone when the Germans invaded, and its hospitals treated the war wounded. Once the United States entered the conflict in 1917, this port city on the Loire River, just a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean, became a crucial site for unloading American munitions.

Yet the war opened new opportunities for women, who stepped into traditional male roles, including factory jobs and local political leadership. In going to Paris just after the hard-won peace, Lucy and Suzanne were not alone, and like many other women, they found even greater freedoms there. Although conservative critics did not like the social transformations taking place in the city, Paris in the 1920s was a place for women to be more independent than they had been before the war, and Lucy and Suzanne planned to take advantage of the progressive mind-set.

They quickly reconnected with friends, especially Sylvia Beach, a recently expatriated American who borrowed family money to start a little English-language bookstore on the Left Bank called Shakespeare and Company. In her memoirs, Beach remembered Lucy and Suzanne being present at the very beginning of her business as unpaid volunteers. One day, Lucy and Suzanne brought their camera to Shakespeare and Company and took a photo of a proud Beach, only a few years their senior. She posed in front of a bookshelf as the light from the storefront window brightened part of her face. Beach had taken the inspiration for her business from a nearby French-language bookstore run by Adrienne Monnier, La Maison des Amis des Livres. As Shakespeare and Company flourished and grew, Beach relocated directly across from Monnier's shop.

Beach and Monnier hosted wonderful evenings at their twinned bookstores where literary lights could meet, drink, and talk. Lucy and Suzanne were frequent visitors to these gatherings. Amid the hundreds of books stacked floor to ceiling and the convivial wine-fueled conversation, the women never knew who they might encounter, including some of the most famous writers living in Paris at that time. Here was James Joyce, and over there André Gide. In walked Paul Valéry and Jacques Prévert. Now Gertrude Stein, the eminent American author and art collector, arrived. Stein recalled seeing Lucy regularly at Shakespeare and Company (although she referred to Lucy as the niece of Marcel Schwob rather than as a person in her own right). One night, Monnier introduced them to Tristan Tzara, one of the founders of the radical antiart movement known as Dada. Another night she brought them to meet André Breton, the artistic rebel with whom they would become close friends a few years later. Ideas discussed on those evenings helped Lucy and Suzanne think in new ways about art, beauty, and literature.

Despite her desire to drink it all in, though, Lucy remembered in a draft of her unpublished autobiography that she was always so nervous and timid on these occasions. Meeting such great writers and artists made her blush, and she felt exasperated because she never seemed able to be her real self. Suzanne was always the more social of the two, outgoing and confident. Lucy was laconic and deeply introverted, often seeking solitude. Suzanne was "firm ground, calm and light ocean," but Lucy was "tormented sky, deep agitated ocean," as one friend summed them up.

Their friendship with Beach and Monnier was important not only because it introduced them to other artists but also because Beach and Monnier were lovers. None of these women used the word lesbian to refer to themselves, perhaps not surprising since it was only one of several terms for women loving women and was not necessarily employed in the way it would be in later decades. Frequently, they used no term at all to describe the love between them.

Cafes, nightclubs, and restaurants provided a vibrant scene for women in same-sex relationships in 1920s Paris. In these years, the gay and lesbian community was more visible than ever before, especially in well-established entertainment districts like Montmartre, with its music halls, bars, and brothels. Yet women also formed supportive communities in more private spaces such as artistic salons and bookstores. Gertrude Stein and her partner, Alice B. Toklas—one of the most famous female couples in Paris—created an ongoing conversation about literature and ideas in their living room. Among such kindred spirits, Lucy and Suzanne could be open about their relationship, and pairs like Beach and Monnier or Stein and Toklas became role models for them. In their creative circles, Lucy and Suzanne also learned about the power of a new kind of personal and artistic resistance.

Interior of apartment at 22 rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, Paris. Courtesy Of The Jersey Heritage Collections.

Two years after relocating to Paris, they moved to a new apartment in Montparnasse on rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs and furnished it luxuriously, combining pieces they inherited with items purchased with family money since neither really worked for a living. Despite their bohemian lives, they were never "starving artists." Lucy papered the bedroom from floor to ceiling with dark blue wallpaper covered in stars, believing that it would help her insomnia. Their two cats lurked around the flat. A photograph of the most famous gay man of the day, Oscar Wilde—who happened to be one of Uncle Marcel's friends—and his lover, Alfred Douglas, hung in a conspicuous location.

Lucy and Suzanne often hosted a growing group of friends in their parlor, leading conversations about art and ideas. Suzanne could open their address book, which still exists today, and run her fingers down a list of names that read like an artistic who's who of their day, deciding whom to invite—Louis Aragon, Salvador Dalí, Georges Bataille, the British writer Aldous Huxley, Jean Cocteau, the famous American lesbian writer Natalie Barney, the young psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, and many others. When visitors entered the well-appointed apartment, they were overwhelmed by the array of artwork on the wall—everything from photographs to posters to paintings by Max Ernst, Joan Miró, and other modernists—that nearly reached the ceiling. Cubist sculptures and exotic pieces were scattered around the apartment, along with a collection of glass ornaments and oriental tapestries. Sometimes Lucy brought out a large red mannequin, much to visitors' amusement and delight, or toured guests through their fabulous library, which contained numerous first editions.

Montparnasse provided other Left Bank pleasures. Le Café du Dôme, La Rotonde, and other famous hot spots, just steps away from the apartment, became frequent haunts. These were the meeting places for many expatriate Americans, especially artists and writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, who were living cheaply on the strong dollar in the Great War's aftermath. Cafes and dance halls buzzed with wildly popular jazz music, a welcome release for Parisians who had endured the rationing and lights-out of the wartime capital. Montparnasse was also the home of one of the first lesbian nightclubs in the city, the Monocle. "All the women there dressed as men, in Tuxedos," writes historian Florence Tamagne, "and wore their hair in a bob."

Despite the fun, conversations inevitably turned to political events around Europe, including the takeover of Italy by a new ideology called fascism. In 1922, Benito Mussolini was engineering his rise to power through organized violence and grandiose promises of returning Italy to the greatness of the Roman Empire. Fascist movements across Europe, even in France, threatened to tear nations apart and send more men to their deaths in the trenches of another war. Right-wing groups plotting to overthrow democratic governments and end individual freedoms clashed in city streets across the Continent with communists and centrists.

Amid The Growing Political Tension, in the summer of 1922 Lucy and Suzanne decided to travel to Jersey once again. The island was a safe and comfortable place for them. Back in 1916, the Schwob family had boarded the ferry at Saint-Malo for their first of several family getaways there. The white sandy beaches surrounded by dark rocky cliffs were wonderful for strolling. The fresh air was good for then twenty-one-year-old Lucy's poor health, and the sea made for invigorating swimming. The island's towns offered a blend of English and French culture. Although largely anglophone, many residents spoke French, and quite a few of the streets bore French names. Jersey's local dialect, also derived from French, and its distant Norman heritage and the persistence of many old French surnames among established Jersey families made the island seem familiar. Sometime that year, Lucy penned a never-published novel called "The Happy Island," suggesting that her first visit to Jersey was indeed blissful.

Lucy on Jersey, ca. 1920. Courtesy Of The Jersey Heritage Collections.

Jersey also provided the Schwobs some important psychological distance from World War I, which was still raging on the continent in 1916, but even on Jersey, the conflict was not quite so distant as the vacationers may have expected. A contingent of Jerseymen had volunteered to fight, and those who remained guarded the island's shoreline. The British army had also established a prisoner-of-war camp on Jersey and brought approximately fifteen hundred German soldiers to St. Brelade's Parish.

The Schwobs stayed at the St. Brelade's Bay Hotel, a gleaming white building overlooking the waves lapping the shoreline. Down the beach to the west, past a granite farmhouse and the parish church, lived several families of fishermen, including the Steels. A teenaged Bob Steel met Lucy, and the two developed a connection. Bob fished and worked as a farmhand, and although Lucy gave no physical description of him in her writings, it's not hard to imagine his muscles toned from physical labor and his skin deeply tanned from the hours on the boat and in the fields. "I'd have gaily thrown my soft, warm body into the merciless fire" for him, she recalled. "How obvious his royalty was to me!" she opined. "That love, so intellectual! To the point of debauchery, to the point of absurdity."

Lucy's attraction to Bob was aesthetic and idealistic, and a bit patronizing. She remembered him as authentic and primitive, a working-class contrast to her well-heeled bourgeois background. They flirted with each other, but both were shy about physical contact.

Postcard showing the St. Brelade's Bay Hotel. To the far left in the photograph is the house that Lucy and Suzanne would purchase in 1937. Courtesy Of The Jersey Heritage Collections.

Bob was not the first young man to lavish attention on Lucy. Her cousin René was serving in the war at the very moment the family was on Jersey, and the letters he sent to Lucy from the trenches revealed his deepest thoughts. Later, in her unpublished memoirs, she would write about how one day, while at home on leave, he had confided to her how poor the military leadership was and of his despair of the war effort. René charmed Lucy with his strong personality and humorous antics, and she felt a deep affection for him. She soon realized that René wanted them to marry. Her father told René that his plan would not work, she recalled, offering a veiled hint that Lucy was not interested in men.

Lucy's complex attraction to Bob, and perhaps to René, may have revealed an evolving and fluid sense of sexual identity. By this point, she and Suzanne had been together for several years and were deeply in love. The two girls met in 1900 when Lucy was six and Suzanne eight; both families were part of elite society in Nantes. In 1908, Lucy returned from a year of school in England at the age of fourteen and reconnected with her old friend Suzanne. Lucy described their reunion as a lightning strike. Suzanne was beautiful, with long hair flowing over her shoulders and down her back and a wide bright smile across her face. Lucy captured Suzanne's vivacious spirit in a photograph that she treasured.

Bob Steel in an undated photograph. Courtesy Of The Jersey Heritage Collections.

Suzanne was the daughter and granddaughter of influential doctors; another grandfather was a bookseller in Nantes. Her stable, peaceful background equipped her to provide a calming influence on Lucy, who suffered years of psychological abuse from a mentally ill mother who would soon be committed to an asylum. Their relationship was fueled with adolescent intensity. "A new feeling—troubling—animated me," wrote Lucy. "Jealous, exclusive passion. . . . Soon nothing existed for me except my relationship with Suzanne." They spent time together among family and friends, even traveling with each other on several vacations to Jersey and elsewhere. Lucy's house provided a mostly private meeting place, but for more intimate encounters, they snuck off to the countryside on their bicycles. "We, Suzanne and I, had to surmount difficulties that I prefer to leave to the imagination," Lucy wrote in a letter as she reminisced about the early days of being young and in love with another woman in a deeply conservative society.

Their connection, and their passion, strengthened over the next few years, but there were times when Suzanne could do little to help Lucy. After Lucy underwent an appendectomy and suffered from lingering physical effects, her persistent anxiety worsened. In desperation, she decided to take the powerful drug ether, which in addition to its anesthetic powers is also famously hallucinogenic.

Suzanne Malherbe. Courtesy Of The Jersey Heritage Collections.

The drug became a habit. In that same letter, she recalled a hope to "discover, after having breathed it, the secret of a certain detachment, of a wonderful happiness, in this form of drunkenness (the dreams which accompanied it)." She probably also drank it, with typically disastrous effects on her gastrointestinal system. Lucy's health began to deteriorate, and her appetite vanished. She hoped to cure herself from her addiction by practicing yoga, fasting, and even by writing to a Hindu astrologer. She contemplated suicide.

With his mentally ill ex-wife in an asylum, Lucy's father, Maurice Schwob, now had to face the possibility of putting his nineteen-year-old daughter in an institution too. Instead, he decided, with the advice of Suzanne's father, who was head of the medical school in Nantes, to let Suzanne help take care of Lucy. By this point, the families probably knew that the girls were more than simply close friends. Suzanne helped pick up the pieces of Lucy's scarred psyche.

In an article published in a Nantes-based literary journal, Lucy wrote that her feelings for Suzanne were her "idée maîtresse," her "guiding principle." "I am in her; she is in me; and I will follow her always, never losing sight of her."

Lucy Schwob, "Elles s'aiment," 1908. Courtesy Of The Jersey Heritage Collections.

One day, she sketched a set of images: a foot inside a high-heeled shoe, an eye, lips, a glove, all stacked on top of one another. On the lips, she wrote her own name, Lucy Schwob, and in the iris of the eye, she inscribed Suzanne's. Behind these illustrations, Lucy wrote three large cursive letters with loops and flourishes: LSM. These were the initials L. S. and S. M., with the middle letter of their names shared. In this simple configuration, Lucy showed just how closely they were joined. Pronounced phonetically, the letters create the phrase "elles s'aiment" ("they love each other").

In the years before Lucy and Suzanne moved to Jersey—and especially during the 1920s and 1930s, when they lived in Paris—Lucy and Suzanne began to see themselves as outsiders, bound to each other and fighting the world around them. Unknowingly, they were cultivating a set of behaviors and attitudes that would help them confront the Nazi occupation.

Lucy'S Father Had Recognized his teenaged daughter's intelligence and writing talent, and as the editor of one of Nantes's most important newspapers, he could offer an outlet for her creativity. Suzanne demonstrated artistic abilities from an early age, and she enrolled in art school, studying painting, wood engraving, and illustration. Working in tandem, they created pieces that appeared first in Lucy's father's newspaper and later in other publications. Lucy wrote the text and Suzanne provided the illustrations.

Lucy's first major essay, published in 1914 in a high-profile literary journal that her uncle Marcel had helped found, was titled "Vues et visions." The "views" that she described evoked the ocean as seen from a beach resort town near Nantes. Those views led to "visions," which were set in ancient Greece, Rome, or Egypt. A few years later, just before moving to Paris, Lucy and Suzanne collaborated on a reprint of the essay, turning it into a small book. In this version, the words and images were striking and beautiful, each illuminating and balancing the other. The strong lines of Suzanne's modernist drawings took up at least half of each page, blending art nouveau's sinuous curves with an early art deco emphasis on geometric form and repeating patterns. One of Suzanne's illustrations, Modern Night, captured Lucy's "view" with a depiction of two women in an intimate moment; in a related illustration, Ancient Light, two embracing men represented Lucy's "vision." But in neither image are the figures stereotypically male or female. The women's hair was cropped short. Suzanne gave the faces of the men delicate, feminine features.

"Vues et visions" also marked what art historian Tirza True Latimer calls their "artistic coming out, since it undoubtedly raised their public profile as a couple while making their homophilia glaringly apparent to those aware of the codes involved." The appearance of both their names on the title page of the publication emphasized the collaborative nature of the work. Lucy lovingly gave her text to Suzanne: "I dedicate these childish words to you so that the entire book will belong to you and so that your drawings will excuse my text."

However, the names in print were not Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe. For their creative work, they chose to be known exclusively as Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, respectively. Suzanne had been calling herself Moore for a while, but Lucy had gone through several pseudonyms over the previous years, even sometimes spelling her name "Lucie" before finally settling on the gender-ambiguous Claude, a name used by both men and women in France. Cahun was her paternal grandmother's maiden name. Taking a name from another woman in the family allowed her to escape the shadows of her famous uncle and her influential father. It also, at least partly, let her pay homage to her cousin René Cahun, who had died in the trenches of World War I in 1917. That was the year she fully embraced her new moniker.

It was also the year that Lucy's divorced father married Suzanne's widowed mother, making the two lovers, now twenty-three and twenty-five, stepsisters.

Lucy and Suzanne went back and forth between their birth names and their artistic names, transitioning identities from wealthy bourgeois daughters to transgressive Parisian artists as needed. They were certainly not the first to do so. The famous nineteenth-century French author Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin was better known in public and in print as George Sand, although family and friends called her Aurore. Many artists took new names to separate their artistic personae from their personal lives, to modify their public image, or to hide behind a different identity. In turn-of-the-century French literature, writers sometimes gave lesbian characters androgynous names. To play against stereotypes, the groundbreaking male artist Marcel Duchamp created a female persona named Rrose Sélavy.

Yet even when creating as Cahun and Moore, they often referred to themselves in personal correspondence as Lucy and Suzanne. By choosing new identities but also keeping their given names, Lucy and Suzanne remained somewhere between masculine and feminine, resisting either category fully and enjoying the freedom to float between the two when it suited them.

In addition to taking on a new name, Lucy also significantly modified her appearance. In the summer of 1920 on a Jersey vacation just before their move to Paris, the two women climbed onto the rocks near the beach at St. Brelade's Bay in search of good lighting and an intriguing backdrop for a photograph. Lucy wore a white sweater with a thick collar and dark knee-length shorts. Bare feet anchored her to the brown granite. Suzanne moved back, closer to the water, aiming the lightweight folding Kodak pocket camera. As Lucy looked off into the distance, Suzanne clicked the shutter.

Looking at the image, it is hard to tell whether this is Lucy in her midtwenties or a young boy. Her long, wavy mane from earlier years was gone. Except for a thin stubble, she had shaved her head bare, allowing the cool air to caress her scalp. They moved to another location in front of a seawall that held back Jersey's unusually high tides. Again, Suzanne lifted the camera and looked through the lens. When the shutter clicked, she captured Lucy's firm, serious eyes staring right at her. Lucy's nearly bald head made her more closely resemble the French soldiers who had recently returned from the battlefields than it did a wealthy woman on a vacation.

Lucy standing against a granite wall on Jersey. Courtesy Of The Jersey Heritage Collections.

Ongoing struggles with illness may have been one reason Lucy shaved her head, but it was more likely an act of rebellion against traditional notions of feminine beauty. Later, when she published a book under the name Claude Cahun, based on her journals from the 1920s, she put it this way: "I shave my head, wrench out my teeth, my breasts—anything that is embarrassing or annoying to look at—stomach, ovaries, the brain, conscious and covered in cysts," suggesting that altering gender and sexual identity was part of the goal, and so was creating a new self.

Anyone observing Lucy might have associated her hairless head with images of "outsiders" from Western society: prisoners, the sick (a population of which Lucy was a member), those in asylums (memories of her mother), monastics who chose a life apart from others, those doing penance, adulteresses being punished, or the lower classes, including seamen and dockworkers. The most famous Frenchwoman to have her hair cut radically short was Queen Marie-Antoinette on her way to the guillotine in 1793. Although Suzanne never shaved her head, she did cut her hair in a short, more masculine style.

Suzanne Malherbe. Courtesy Of The Jersey Heritage Collections.

Partly because of her shifting look, Claude Cahun (as she is always referred to now by scholars) has come to be viewed as a queer or transgender hero, although she would never have used either term since they did not exist at that time in the way that we use them today. Some have wondered whether we should now use the pronouns they/them rather than she/her to refer to Cahun or to Suzanne's alter ego, Marcel Moore. Both women always used the feminine pronoun since there was no alternative available, especially in the highly gendered French language. They always talked about themselves as women.

Lucy was nevertheless acutely aware of the flexibility of her identity. "Shuffle the cards," she wrote as Cahun in one deeply personal essay. "Masculine? Feminine? It depends on the situation. Neuter is the only gender that always suits me. If it existed in our language no one would be able to see my thought's vacillation." Gender was, for her, situational, conditional, possible (or impossible) at any given moment, but it depended on the moment.

Lucy (as Claude Cahun), ca. 1920. Courtesy Of The Jersey Heritage Collections.

Lucy was working to understand what we now describe as gender and sexual fluidity by sorting through the terminology of her day and trying to find the right word. To a long prose poem, which she dedicated to Suzanne, she gave the title "Les jeux uraniens" (Uranian games). By the turn of the century, uranian was a term psychologists and medical doctors used to label a person who felt same-sex desire, often thought of as a female psyche in a man's body. For some, it meant a kind of "third sex," neither male nor female but somewhere in between. Scientists of the era wrote volumes analyzing whether such feelings were innate or acquired.


  • Booklist Editors' Choice, Biography Memoir

    “Every page is gripping, and the amount of new research is nothing short of mindboggling. A brilliant book for the ages!”                           
    —Douglas Brinkley, Rice University Professor and bestselling author of American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race

    “This is a Nazi resistance story like none you’ve ever heard or read, a story with two unlikely heroines who risked their lives in their subversive—and often wildly creative—struggle to face down evil. Paper Bullets prompts us to explore the boundaries of art, love, gender, and politics—and to question the true meaning of courage.”
    —Hampton Sides, bestselling author of In the Kingdom of Ice and On Desperate Ground

    “Cataloguing everything from their small but fearless acts of resistance to their harrowing stints in prison cells, author Jeffrey H. Jackson had us utterly riveted. His well-researched history goes deep into the characters of these two unlikely heroes, whose rebellion was fueled by love and compassion. Malherbe and Schwob’s inspiring story is barely known, but Paper Bullets will make you want to shout it from the rooftops.”
    Apple Books (Best Book of November)

    “A captivating tale of queer love and resistance during World War II . . . Jackson’s research is impeccable and his writing is lively . . . Paper Bullets is a gem of a historical text about two women who stood up to power defiantly, living on their own terms.”
    Foreword Reviews (starred review)

    “A remarkable story of creative courage . . . exceptional and inspiring.”
    Booklist(starred review)

    “The book, at once tense and tender, is a scrupulously researched account of [Cahun and Moore's] lives. It is the first biography to comprehensively weave together their lifelong romance, radical art and fearless political resistance during World War II . . . Yet, even with its piercing wartime depictions of rationing and hunger, intimidation and depravity, and nail-biting acts of resistance, Paper Bullets is at its core a story of devotion.”
    The Washington Post

    “A fascinating examination of community and resistance, gender and sexuality, and what it means to recognize the humanity in every person.”
    Chapter 16

    “Jeffrey Jackson brings to light Lucy and Suzanne’s courage and savvy in this book that reads like a classic WWII spy thriller, but with a modern focus on how these two heroes took society’s default tendency to underestimate women’s power and agency, especially during wartime, and used it to undermine the Nazis. We marvel at how they hide in plain sight as they stealthily fight the very forces trying to exterminate who they really are. And not only do they outsmart their German foes, but they survive to tell about it.”
    Emily Yellin, author of Our Mothers’ War

     “A unique WWII history and absorbing story of two bold, unconventional women.”
    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

    Paper Bullets has it all — it's a tale of romance in spite of the odds, a slice of art history, and an inspirational World War II story. It is, simply put, nearly impossible to put down.”
    Memphis Flyer

    “Impeccably researched and meticulously sourced, Paper Bullets is a welcome and timely portrait of courage and creativity.”

    “Readers will delight in this unique and well-crafted story of wartime resistance.”
     — Publishers Weekly

    “This is a satisfying contribution to World War II scholarship, highlighting a sophisticated, cultured, and still grassroots resistance effort.”
    Library Journal

    Paper Bullets reads like a well-paced, nail-biting thriller. Jeffrey H Jackson leads us through a novel-like tale of intrigue, scandal and plucky war-time resistance . . . The power of art and the impact of political artists makes for a gripping rollercoaster ride that we thoroughly enjoyed.”
    Daily Art Magazine  

    “A gripping story. The lesbian couple Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe deployed their intellectual capacities and peacetime experience in dissembling their identities to challenge the German occupiers with artistic 'paper bullets.' The contest between the baffled Nazis and the crafty traitors animates this historical thriller.”               
    —Bonnie G. Smith, author of Women In World History

    “A regular occurrence in queer history is erasure. This book allows the past to speak for itself. Jackson elevates and highlights these Nazi-fighters and avant-garde artists—better known today as Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore—and reminds us to use spiritual arms instead of firearms in the face of growing division and hate.”
    Tommy Kha, artist and winner of the 2019 Creative Review Photography Annual

    “Riveting. Breaks new ground in our understanding of collaboration and resistance in Nazi-occupied Europe and the impact of women in wartime. A must-read for anyone interested in World War II, resistance, women's history, or the defense of democratic ideals during times of tyranny and oppression.”
    —Michael D. Bess, Vanderbilt University Professor and author of Choices Under Fire

On Sale
Nov 10, 2020
Page Count
336 pages
Algonquin Books

Jeffrey H. Jackson

Jeffrey H. Jackson

About the Author

Jeffrey H. Jackson is Professor of History at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. An expert on European history and culture, he is the author of Paris Under Water: How the City of Light Survived the Great Flood of 1910 and Making Jazz French: Music and Modern Life in Interwar Paris. He has appeared in documentary films and helped develop “Harlem in Montmartre: A Paris Jazz Story” for PBS’s Great Performances .

Learn more about this author