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RETURN TO THE REICH

A HOLOCAUST REFUGEE’S SECRET MISSION TO DEFEAT THE NAZIS

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 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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