An enthralling page-turner.




A real-life World War II spy thriller from a two-time Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist.

Lichtblau (The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler's Men, 2014, etc.) narrates the exciting story of Freddy Mayer (1926-2016), from his childhood in Germany before the rise of the Nazis to his escapades in the OSS. His family was lucky to escape from Germany, arriving in New York in 1938. After Pearl Harbor, he tried to enlist, hoping to use his German training as a mechanic, but he was rejected as an “enemy alien.” Soon, the need for able-bodied men eased the restrictions, and Mayer’s older brother was called up. Freddy appealed, and the draft board took him instead, allowing his brother to finish college. His dauntlessness, abilities, and outlandish maneuvers brought him to the attention of the OSS, and after months of training, he arrived in Africa in June 1944. His partner was Hans Wynberg, a Dutch Jew and Morse code expert. Frustrated at the lack of action, Mayer came up with audacious ideas for missions. While his superiors never doubted his motives, they worried that he had no limits. Finally, they engaged in a mission into the Austrian Tyrol, but there were no local resisters to meet their landing; they needed a guide. Thus Mayer was sent to a Nazi POW camp to find a German ready to turn to their side. He struck gold with Franz Weber, a German deserter born in the Alps. Mayer, Wynberg, and Weber ended up in Weber’s hometown, where some local citizens helped them. And that’s just the backstory. Recounting one of the most successful espionage missions, Lichtblau delivers the goods, shining a bright spotlight on a truly unique character: Mayer was aggressive, ingenious, and often disregarded the rules, to great effect.

An enthralling page-turner.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-52853-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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