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Destination Casablanca: Exile, Espionage, and the Battle for North Africa in World War II

Meredith Hindley

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True crime, History

This rollicking and panoramic history of Casablanca during the Second World War sheds light on the city as a key hub for European and American powers, and a place where spies, soldiers, and political agents exchanged secrets and vied for control.

In the summer of 1940, following France's surrender to Germany, Casablanca was transformed from an exotic travel destination to a key military target. Nazi agents and collaborators soon overran the city looking to capitalize on the new Vichy regime. The resistance was not far behind, as bartenders, shopkeepers, taxi drivers, celebrities, and disgruntled bureaucrats formed a network of Allied spies. Meanwhile, Jewish refugees from Europe flooded the city, hoping to obtain visas to the United States and beyond.

In November 1942, Casablanca's wartime fate changed in 74 hours, when 33,000 American soldiers stormed the beaches of French Morocco as part of Operation TORCH. In Allied hands, Casablanca's port became a crucial logistical hub in British and American plans to return to Europe and defeat Germany. Two months later, Roosevelt and Churchill traveled to Casablanca to plot the next phase of war and achieve Germany's "unconditional surrender."

Rife with rogue soldiers, power grabs, plot twists, and diplomatic intrigue, Destination Casablanca is the riveting and untold history of this glamorous and beloved city - memorialized in the classic film - at the heart of World War II.

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