BEACONS IN THE NIGHT by Franklin Lindsay


With the OSS and Tito's Partisans in Wartime Yugoslavia
Email this review


 Exciting OSS/Serbo-Croatian adventure circa 1944, by Lindsay (Associate/Harvard's Center for International Affairs). Respectfully introduced by John Kenneth Galbraith, Lindsay's memoir preserves in well-crafted prose a legendary period, proving beyond doubt that Donovan's Daredevils were not all Ivy League triflers. A young engineer with a smattering of useful languages, the author talked himself into an assignment that began with parachuting into Yugoslavia to work with Tito's partisans and led to a hardscrabble existence that lost novelty but never danger. In precise, well-remembered detail, supported by archives and some thousand pages of radio dispatches, Lindsay presents the daily complexities of the assignment. Working with Communists, plagued by irregular supply drops, dependent on cranky radios that required large batteries, pursued by ever-efficient German intelligence and military units, saddled with inept local explosives ``experts,'' and subsisting on anything from horse meat to dough-balls, he blew up major bridges and tunnels, was nearly blown up himself, and lived a life that, as told here, is half For Whom the Bell Tolls and half Lawrence of Arabia. Especially clear is the element of human error (usually born of nationalism and compounded by bureaucracy): At one point, such error causes the partial failure of what could have been a brilliant mission; at another, it results in the loss of two British supply planes. Lindsay also presents a lucid picture of local customs, personalities, and nationalities, as well as of the Nazi exploitation of ethnic enmities that are unchanged to this day. Nor is he without humor, as in his account of a riding lesson interrupted by a randy stallion. An impressive document that will interest WW II buffs, historians, and anyone who likes a tale of hands-on derring-do.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-8047-2123-8
Page count: 407pp
Publisher: Stanford Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1993


NonfictionDONOVAN'S DEVILS by Albert Lulushi
by Albert Lulushi