Who was Jean Moulin? According to the official version, he was the exiled General de Gaulle's emissary to the French Resistance movements in occupied France during World War II and became the political head of the Resistance in 1943. Although he has entered French history as one of the great heroes of World War II, surprisingly little is known about him. He was captured in Lyons and tortured by the Gestapo, and is believed to have died a few days later without talking. Ever since his disappearance, arguments have raged as to whether or not he was betrayed by other Resistance workers. But why should they do that? Was Jean Moulin just a brave civil servant who volunteered as a secret agent. Or was he, as some believe, a French Philby, working to promote a Communist insurrection in France? But in order to find out who he was, one must first know who killed him. Marnham set out to write "an uncritical biography of a very brave man" but his research uncovered a far more fascinating and ambivalent figure.
It took him from the Provencal village where Jean Moulin spent his childhood, through his early career and bohemian life as an artist in Montparnasse, right up to the doctor's room in Caluire where he was sitting when Klaus Barbie's Gestapo burst through the door and where, in 1987, Marnham interviewed the doctor himself. The author's biographical detection discloses a plot within a plot and summarizes the evidence as to who actually killed Jean Moulin. He also reveals how a heroic legend was manufactured to take the place of a heroic life.