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THEY FOUGHT ALONE

THE TRUE STORY OF THE STARR BROTHERS, BRITISH SECRET AGENTS IN NAZI-OCCUPIED FRANCE

A well-rendered historical account emphasizing the moral complexities of unorthodox warfare.

An exacting reconstruction of the exploits of two Anglo-American brothers who fueled French resistance to Nazi occupation.

Former ABC News chief Middle East correspondent Glass (Syria Burning: A Short History of a Catastrophe, 2016, etc.) creates a fresh, detailed take on the patriotic legend of anti-Nazi insurgency by focusing on the diverse array of heroes and villains the brothers encountered once dispatched in 1942 to develop resistance cells for Britain’s Special Operations Executive. “While British agents like George and John Starr learned how to kill,” writes the author, “training schools could not teach them whom to trust.” The brothers’ divergent experiences provide an inherently compelling narrative. Over two years of covert organizational actions in the Gascony region, including receiving weaponry and agents and maintaining communications with SOE, George gained renown as an effective, principled officer, culminating in sabotage and combat operations following D-Day. However, John was arrested in Paris by Nazi counterintelligence. He cooperated with his interrogators, secretly documenting the Funkspiel, or “playback,” of captured radios, a successful counterdeception of SOE. Nazi officers who’d taken a liking to him spared his life after a thwarted escape attempt, although he was later sent to concentration camps. Both brothers survived the war only to see their reputations tarnished; George was accused of allowing the torture of Gestapo agents, while John was tried for collaboration in France. Both were eventually acquitted; as Glass concludes, “each Starr had experienced a different war….Each always rose to the defense of the other.” The author ably captures the stubborn courage displayed by SOE agents and the French resisters who gathered around them, and he clearly portrays the clever functionality of Allied espionage and insurgency tactics despite the brutality of the Nazis and their collaborators. His determination to fully document the sprawling web of individual players, political factions, betrayals, and flashpoints that compose the French resistance narrative results in a history that casual readers may find dense but that World War II buffs will relish.

A well-rendered historical account emphasizing the moral complexities of unorthodox warfare.

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59420-617-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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