Actually, when I finished my last book, Madame Fourcade’s Secret War, and began thinking about my next project, my first impulse was to find another subject dealing with the war. I began to research possible subjects, one of which was the first resistance network created in Paris after the Germans occupied France in 1940.
What interested me most about the Musée de l’Homme network was that it was an unlikely collection of rebels. Most of its members were scholars—anthropologists, archaeologists, art historians, museum curators and directors, linguists, writers, and librarians. Equally interesting was the fact that women played key roles in creating and running it, a highly unusual occurrence in the overall resistance movement in France, which was heavily male-oriented.
But as I read more about the group, I became fascinated by the story of one of its women members—a young archaeologist named Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt. She was the acting chief curator of Egyptian antiquities at the Louvre and led a double life during the war, working at the museum during the week while involved in the resistance at night and on weekends.