An enthralling page-turner.

RETURN TO THE REICH

A HOLOCAUST REFUGEE’S SECRET MISSION TO DEFEAT THE NAZIS

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...

NIGHT

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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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