It’s a truism that people are complicated, multifaceted, contradictory, surprising, but it takes the advent of war or other momentous events to be able to see it. It is the most fascinating and the most dreadful of spectacles…the most dreadful because it’s so real; you can never pride yourself on truly knowing the sea unless you’ve seen it both calm and in a storm. Only the person who has observed men and women at times like this…can be said to know them. And to know themselves.
- from Irène Némirovsky’s Suite Française