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Amazon Price: £6.64 (as of January 19, 2018 7:08 pm – Details). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the Amazon site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Also available on amazon.com for £6.64 (as of January 19, 2018 7:08 pm – Details). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the Amazon site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

At the beginning of the Second World War, Koestler was living in the south of France working on Darkness at Noon. After retreating to Paris he was imprisoned by the French as an undesirable alien even though he had been a respected crusader against fascism. Only luck and his passionate energy allowed him to escape the fate of many of the innocent refugees, who were handed over to the Nazis for torture and often execution. Scum of the Earth is more than the story of Koestler's survival. His shrewd observation of the collapse of French determination to resist during the summer of 1940 is an illustration of what happens when a nation loses its honour and its pride.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 663 KB
  • Print Length: 253 pages
  • Publisher: Eland Publishing (18 May 2012)
  • Sold by:  Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009ZH6VC0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray: Not Enabled
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

Customer Reviews

Five Stars

 on 24 August 2017
By Amazon Customer


 on 3 December 2017
By bemrose
Required reading. Beautifully written

History Come Alive

19 people found this helpful.
 on 8 April 2009
By Stan Marut
I have just rediscovered Koestler and I’m glad I did. Apart from reading the two volume autobiography, I read this in between. What started out as a browse before finishing my other Koestler volume, I found that I was unable to put this book down. Koestler is so eloquent and is a delight to read. His description of the fall of France in 1939/1940 as an alien is unbelieveable. It appears that foreigners in France at that time were treated abominably. Not only was this reportage of events in France at that sad time, it was also a highly readable adventure story.

A band on the run

20 people found this helpful.
 on 10 February 2012
I’m aware that telling readers that before they dip into this book, they should read other works by the author, but to really understand Scum of the Earth properly, one has to read some more Koestler of this period. I apologise !

Interesting Memoir from 1941 during the French Capitulation

4 people found this helpful.
 on 13 October 2010
By Burgmicester
Arthur Koestler was a known Communist that turned anti-Communist and anti-Fascist. He wrote several works that acted as memoirs from various time periods in this life. This particular book was written just after his harrowing time in and out of prisons and concentration camps in France just before and after the Germans invaded in 1940.

Prison camp psychology and the Fall of France

106 people found this helpful.
 on 4 February 2002
By tom27307
This is one of the strongest books I have ever read. It details Koestler’s internment in France as an “undesirable alien” in the early part of the war, and then his struggle to keep out of the clutches of the Gestapo as the Germans march in and the country collapses in 1940.

Despair in France……..1940

One person found this helpful.
 on 3 October 2009
The feeling of being hunted….the germans closing in…..few autobiographical accounts seem as devoid of hope as this classic account of novelist Koestlers attempts to flee the occupying Germans in the summer of 1940.

Forgotten classic of wartime

18 people found this helpful.
 on 21 March 2002
..What lends this book its immediacy is that it was written, and published, while the war was still in progress and the good guys weren’t winning; also that instead of the usual Nazis v (mainly) Jews, it is French v (mainly) leftists of all descriptions. But this doesn’t convey the book’s flavour. It’s a human story, rich in resonances. Even if you don’t read ‘war books’, ignore the rather off-putting title and get swept away! Then for a more soothing view of the tail-end of the war, read Love and War in the Appenines.

France in 1939-1940 – a fascinating book

 on 10 November 2015
By Cloiff
By describing his own experiences of internment and harassment during 1939 and 1940, Koestler reveals the circumstances that led to the collapse of France in the face of Nazi invasion. He describes the reluctance, of French army conscripts, asked to fight and perhaps die in yet another war against the Germans. He asks how it is that he and others, committed anti-Nazis, are persecuted by the French authorities, instead of being welcomed as allies in the struggle against the Germans. Koestler points to the moral and political bankruptcy of the upper echelons of French society at the time, and the near-Fascist opinions of so many of its functionaries, which eventually led to the dismaying horrors of the Vichy regime. Amongst other things, this state of mind, even before the German invasion, involved extreme paranoia about foreigners, especially those, such as the Hungarian, Jewish ex-communist Koestler, with a history of left wing activism, so that they were rounded up, interned, imprisoned, hounded, tormented and finally, handed over to the Gestapo.

A very personal perspective

 on 16 July 2014
By Mel Powell
Hungarian born journalist, writer, sometime communist and anti nazi Arthur Koestler, charts the outbreak of the Second World War through his own experience. Because it was written before the end of WWII, without the benefit of hindsight or retrospection, it has a very different feel to other factual or biographic accounts from the same period. Koestler, along with other anti nazis communists and various persecuted groups from all over Europe, find themselves rounded up and interned by the French. Koestler, only by the most drawn out and unlikeliest of escapes, avoided the inevitable fate of many of these unfortunate prisoners and managed, eventually, to get to Britain. The story gets bogged down in parts with detailed accounts of the chaotic politics of the time and Kafka-like bureaucracy as the French establishment melts down in the months preceding invasion and the desperate confusion before final capitulation. Great if you are an historian of the period; slightly laborious if you are not (in parts). However, this does not detract from the sense of injustice conveyed, the prejudice encountered by these ‘undesirables’ at the hands of the French and I found myself educated by a writer who skilfully kept me engaged even through the most convoluted intricacies of European pre-war politics. Glad I read it. Might read it again.
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