Gripping proof that indeed all is fair in love and war.




Seasoned journalist Malkin (The National Debt, 1987) tells the compelling story of the Third Reich’s attempt to wreck the British economy by flooding Europe with millions of counterfeit British pounds.

Germany may have lost the war, but from 1942 to 1945, it succeeded in perfecting the art of counterfeiting British pounds: 132 million of them, worth U.S. $535 million. The highly skilled counterfeiters were mostly Jewish concentration-camp inmates whose success at mass-producing fake British notes proved to be their means of escaping the gas chambers. The 140-plus members of the counterfeit team, which worked out of Block 19 at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, were handpicked from the prisoner population by Bernhard Krueger, an SS officer whose generally benign treatment of his counterfeiters belied his knowledge that all were to be exterminated at war’s end. Malkin unravels the German plot in a methodical, concentrated narrative. Along the way, he introduces us to a score of curious characters, including Salomon Smolianoff, a professional Russian con man and master counterfeiter; Elyesa Bazna, the Turkish master spy known as “Cicero” to his British handlers; and Friedrich Schwend, the Germans’ oily chief money launderer, who slipped away to Argentina after the war. Equally shady are the stodgy British lords at the Bank of England who ignored numerous warnings about the counterfeiting plot, then actively covered up evidence of its success after the war, even as London’s dog-track bookies were refusing to accept British five-pound notes for fear of getting fakes. The author’s dry, trenchant prose isn’t terribly exciting, but his thorough research and authoritative voice enable this fascinating chapter of history to hold interest.

Gripping proof that indeed all is fair in love and war.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-316-05700-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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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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