(Review) The One Man by Andrew Gross

the one manPublisher and Publication Date: Minotaur Books. August 23, 2016.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 416.
Source: Library.
Rating: Excellent.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction who love World War II stories.

Amazon

Summary:
The story begins with an older gentleman living in a Geriatric wing at the Veterans Administration Hospital near Chicago. He is visited by his daughter who compels him to share his story about war experiences. Then, the story travels back in time to 1944. Dr. Alfred Mendl, a Jewish man, who is an electromagnetic physicist, has been sent to a Nazi concentration camp. His family was torn apart from him at arrival. In America, a young man named Nathan Blum is given a dangerous mission to break into a Nazi concentration camp, and safely bring out a person who the allies believe will help win the war.

My Thoughts:
The following bullet points are why I loved this story!
•All the characters are at their peak of stress. Some of the characters are under the stress of looking for ways to survive or escape. Some of the characters are looking for ways to hold on to their power. Some of the characters are looking for ways to end the war. Some of the characters are at the point of desperation. Andrew Gross through the use of the general theme, plot, pace, and dialogue compelled me to become immersed in the story.
•The story did not give clues as to who would survive the mission. I loved it that Gross did not give away the surprise ending until the final scenes.
•The power of love and sacrifice is displayed in the story.
•Gross states in the “Author’s Note” that he didn’t go in to details as other books about the brutality of a concentration camp. However, through a Lagerkommandant, I saw the evil in his heart that was displayed in his behavior.

 

Advertisements

(Review) They Fought Alone: The True Story of the Starr Brothers, British Secret Agents in Nazi-Occupied France by Charles Glass

38813235

Publisher and Publication Date: Penguin Press. September 11, 2018.
Genre: Nonfiction. World War II. Memoir. Secret Service.
Pages: 336.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Recommend. Very good.
Audience: World War II readers.

Amazon

Included are 46 illustrations and a six page list of characters.

Summary:
I love the opening line of the prologue: “The German occupation of France, as Dickens wrote of the French Revolution, was the best and the worst of times.”
In mid 1940, Nazi Germany invaded France, and the French people lived under Germany’s heavy rule until late summer of 1944.
During the occupation, the French Resistance worked to collect information and sabotage German efforts.
The Starr brothers were George Reginald Starr and John Ashford Renshaw Starr. Their father was born in America, but the brothers were born in England. These brothers joined the new organization of SOE or Special Operations Executive. The brothers worked in different areas of France. One of them was arrested, tortured, and spent time in a prison. Later, one of the brothers was accused of war crimes. An investigation proceeded.
They Fought Alone is the story of the Starr brothers, but shares the stories of many of the SOE and Resistance workers during the occupation of France.

My Thoughts:
The previous book I reviewed on the same kind of topic was Long Live Freedom, about resistance efforts in Germany. Their group was named the White Rose. Both Long Live Freedom and They Fought Alone are nonfiction, neither are narrative nonfiction. They are journalistic or academic. They Fought Alone is chronological in time and this is helpful to the reader.

What I loved about the book:
•For the most part it is chronological in sequence of dates and events.
•The historical characters are shown with their positive and negative traits. They are described with a transparent and unbiased view.
•The agents had code names, and at times I had to remember who was who. However, I did not become lost as the list of characters in the front of the book helped.
•The Resistance and SOE work is shown in the book. Operations and how they were carried out as well as the results.
•A strong aspect of the book is the history surrounding one of the brothers who was accused of war crimes. After all he’d endured, he was accused and investigated.

 

 

(Review) Long Live Freedom! Traute Lafrenz and the White Rose by Peter Normann Waage, translated by DiMari Bailey

41444293

Publisher and Publication Date: Cuidono Press. July 24, 2018.
Genre: Nonfiction. Memoir.
Pages: 256.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Recommend. Very good.
Audience: World War II readers.

Amazon

DiMari Bailey

 

Summary:
In 1942, a group of students in Munich wrote and distributed leaflets that went against Nazi Germany. These writings encouraged the German people to question and resist Nazi Germany. It was Heinrich Himmler who had the group of students arrested and murdered. A young woman named Traute Lafrenz was a member of the group. This group was named the White Rose. Later in life, Lafrenz gave an interview to Peter Normann Waage.
It’s important to note that the book begins with the arrest of the group of students in 1943. Then, the book backs up to tell the complete story of the people involved. Several of the students lives are shared. The book does not just focus on Traute Lafrenz, but other students.
Peter Normann Waage is a Norwegian philosopher and journalist.
DiMari Bailey is the translator of the book from Norwegian to English. In addition, Bailey edited the original work for this book. The preface explains Bailey’s other sources, focus, and organization.

My Thoughts:
The only thing about this book I did not like is the moving around in time, back and forth with different years. This is a common practice in a fiction book. I’m not used to this in a nonfiction history book.
A point that readers will want to know is this is not a narrative nonfiction work. It is a nonfiction retelling about the events, reflections from Lafrenz, letters, and the leaflets.
The story of the White Rose is not something I’d read about. World War II is one of my favorite genres. Books about the German people rising up against their government is not as prevalent. I feel this book is important, because it shows that their were individuals and groups of German people who defied Nazi Germany.
An important feature of the book was Hitler’s impact on the German people. When he spoke with fervor and emotion, the people responded in like. I’d wanted to understand a bit more about what Hitler did to cause people to blindly follow his insane rhetoric. This book not only answered my curiosity, but it was a thorough analysis.
On page 68, it is explained that an American journalist had visited Germany in the 1930s. This journalist, John Gunther, witnessed how the German people responded to Hitler. This proceeds the fascinating and disturbing information about the goals of the Nazi Party, especially in regards to the Jews.
On page 122, the rise of the resistance begins. This includes the assassination attempts on Hitler.
I feel this is an important book. It showed me the resistance of the White Rose, but the book held heavy information about Hitler and the German people.
Included in the back of the book are the leaflets that were printed.

 

(Review) The German Girl by Lucas Correa

The German Girl

Publisher and Publication Date: Washington Square Press. August 8, 2017.
Genre: Historical Fiction. Holocaust. World War II.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Recommend. Very good.

Amazon

Summary:
Two young girls. Two time periods. Two lives who have been shattered by tragedy. Both girls are related. Their lives will intersect.
Hannah lives in Berlin in 1939. She is the only child of a wealthy Jewish family.
Anna lives in New York City post 9/11. The year is 2014. She is the only child of a widow. Anna’s father died before she was born.

My Thoughts:
•A clincher of an opening line. The narrator, Hannah, is talking about killing her parents. It is obvious from the start of the story she is a person under deep stress and anguish. Berlin is a powder keg. The fuse has been lit by Nazi Germany. The Jews are the target of the fuse.
•The setting of both stories, and the emotion of the stories, is the biggest aspect of the book. Both girls are pushed from a young age to become adults. They are heavily burdened by their circumstances. They are at times alone in their minds. They scramble for an answer to their plight.  The German Girl is heart-wrenching at times, because I felt strongly about the outcome of the two young girls.
•Both of the mothers of the two girls are lost in their own “place.” Anna’s mother is lost in the past, and in her grief and depression. Hannah’s mother is lost in the refinement and wealth of her material possessions.
•Anna is a compassionate person. She often looks away from her own situation and is focused on others-their sadness is a heavy weight in her heart. It is so “different” to read about a person who is not selfish and self-entitled. I read about and see so many people focused on their selves that Anna stands in stark contrast.
The German Girl gave me a riveting view of living under the grim conditions as a Jew in Berlin in 1939.
•I’d heard about the ship carrying Jews headed to Cuba. This is the first (fictional) story I’ve read about this history.
•Several photographs are in the back of the book of passengers on the ship, St. Louis. In addition, eight pages of signatures from the passengers.

(Review) Charlotte Gray, French Trilogy #3 by Sebastian Faulks

Charlotte Gray

Publisher and Publication Date: Vintage. 2000.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 401.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Recommend. Good.
Audience: Readers of World War II, Occupied France, and the Resistance.

Amazon

Have you seen the film Birdsong? It’s available on PBS Masterpiece subscription through Prime Video. The same author wrote Charlotte Gray and Birdsong.

 

Summary:
Charlotte Gray is a young Scottish woman who moves to London during the early years of World War II. She rents a room from a young woman named Daisy. The first night in her new lodging, Daisy invites her to a literary party. At the party, she meets Peter Gregory, an RAF pilot. One evening together and it’s an instant connection. Peter goes on a mission to France and does not return to England. Charlotte makes a bold move by joining and training with G-Section as a courier. Her goal is to find and bring Peter home.

My Thoughts:
•Charlotte is not a dimensional character. She is stoic. I pictured her throughout the book with a straight face. She has events that bring her to the point of showing emotion, but continues to emit a quiet strength. I know little about her life before coming to London. Her father was in World War I and has a difficult time adjusting to life post war. There is a painful memory of this period that is spoken about in brief later in the book. I felt this last aspect was thrown in as a glimpse of a dark childhood. This event is not explored in depth. It is a few crumbs thrown in the story that is a bit of a surprise to me. Charlotte comes across as a straight forward, conservative type gal. Later in the story and while in France, she takes a dip that I didn’t expect. I wondered if the author was exploring a bit with Charlotte’s character by adding these two events? By using these two elements in Charlotte’s character, she became more human and imperfect.
•Peter Gregory is a man’s man. He is not interested in serious relationships. His focus is flying and the war effort. Meeting Charlotte and the relationship that “just” happens, takes him by surprise. Love at first site or there afterwards is not something I believe in personally. Lust yes. Love no. Love take time to grow and deepen. However, Charlotte Gray is a fictional story.
•I’ve read several stories that are about the Resistance and SOE work. Charlotte’s duties are not complex. And her work is limited. The focus of this story is less on the work and more about the relationship with Peter Gregory.