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CODENAME NEMO

THE HUNT FOR A NAZI U-BOAT AND THE ELUSIVE ENIGMA MACHINE

A satisfying World War II history.

An account of World War II codebreaking focused more on action than brainwork.

Lachman, executive producer of Inside Edition and author of The Last Lincolns and Footsteps in the Snow, explains that the typewriterlike enigma machine generated critical Nazi communication by scrambling input in billions of ways, and German experts never doubted that its code was unbreakable. However, by 1941, the British were deciphering many messages by ordinary codebreaking brilliance, aided by the earliest computers; despite these successes, actual possession of an enigma machine would make their work easier. All U-boats carried one, but crew invariably destroyed it when threatened with capture. No history of the enigma program—including perhaps the best, Stephen Budiansky’s Battle of Wits—neglects the story of how the Allies hit the jackpot on June 4, 1944, but Lachman tells the fascinating story from the beginning. Opening the book with the U-505 launch in August 1941, the author describes its German crew, the often grotesque conditions inside a U-boat, and the nearly three years of campaigning that featured far more tedium and terror than successful attacks. Lachman does the same with significant American ships and sailors, including Daniel V. Gallery, leader of the antisubmarine task force who, unlike other commanders, had publicly vowed to seize a machine. Few readers will object as Lachman recounts the background, and they will perk up just past the halfway point, when he chronicles how sonar detected U-505. In earlier years, the Allies had captured U-boats, though never fast enough to prevent destruction of its secrets, but Gallery had a trained team ready to go. The author delivers a rousing account of its success. Though Lachman doesn’t claim that the capture of U-505 shortened the war, it was a genuinely heroic act that the author recounts capably.

A satisfying World War II history.

Pub Date: June 4, 2024

ISBN: 9781635768718

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Diversion Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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