You know the movie. The history is even more dramatic.
In November 1942, as a part of Operation Torch, 33,000 American soldiers sailed undetected across the Atlantic and stormed the beaches of French Morocco. Seventy-four hours later, the Americans controlled the country and one of the most valuable wartime ports: Casablanca.
In the years preceding, Casablanca had evolved from an exotic travel destination to a key military target after France’s surrender to Germany. Jewish refugees from Europe poured in, hoping to obtain visas and passage to the United States and beyond. Nazi agents and collaborators infiltrated the city in search of power and loyalty. The resistance was not far behind, as shopkeepers, celebrities, former French Foreign Legionnaires, and disgruntled bureaucrats formed a network of Allied spies. But once in American hands, Casablanca became a crucial logistical hub in the fight against Germany—and the site of Roosevelt and Churchill’s demand for “unconditional surrender.”
Rife with rogue soldiers, power grabs, and diplomatic intrigue, Destination Casablanca is the riveting and untold story of this glamorous city—memorialized in the classic film—at the heart of World War II.
Book excerpt: “Allied Leaders at Casablanca: The Story Behind the Famous Photo Shoot” (TIME)
Book excerpt: “When Jazz Age Superstar Josephine Baker Spied on the Nazis” (Daily Beast)
Book excerpt: “The naval battle of Casablanca began with airplanes” (Foreign Policy’s Best Defense)
Related essay: “George S. Patton sailed off to save the world 75 years ago — and read these novels on the way” (Washington Post)
Related essay: “The Real Refugees of Casablanca” (Longreads)
Article about the book: “Real-life ‘Casablanca’ story is even more dramatic than the Hollywood classic” (Times of Israel)
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