Book Review: American Crimes and the Liberation of Paris: Robbery, Rape and Murder by Renegade GIs 1944-1947


by Kenneth D. Alford

Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2015. Pp. viii, 232. . Illus., notes, biblio., index. $45.00 paper. ISBN: 0786496800

GIs Who Behaved Badly

Alford, author of several works on looting in the Second World War, takes a look at the bad apples among the members of “The Greatest Generation.” While relatively few in number, rogue GIs developed some impressive criminal enterprises while their more upright comrades were fighting the Nazis.

Alford covers crimes in general, including rape, murder, and the Black Market, and also some particularly well organized criminal gangs operated by AWOL GIs, often working with French cohorts who had ties to organized crime. The scale of these crimes was enormous; at times the majority of the monthly cigarette shipments to the troops were diverted to the Black Market, as were millions of gallons of gasoline, motor vehicles, and more. Alford profiles a number of these criminals, though many were never apprehended, and some evaded justice due to rather high rank.

In looking at the Army criminal justice system, Alford finds it wanting, particularly when it came to African Americans charged with crimes, especially rape. Although he doesn’t address recent wild claims of upwards of 150,000 rapes committed by the million or so American personnel in France (in contrast to about 3,500 identified in a more serious study), of about 150 convictions for rape by U.S. personnel in France, 130 were of black men, as were 25 of the 29 men hanged for rape, although African Americans constituted only about 10 percent of U.S. troops in Europe.

Although not definitive, this is a good book about an unfortunate aspect of the war.

Note: American Crimes and the Liberation of Paris is also available as an ebook ISBN 978-1-4766-1943-9


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

Buy it at



Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close