Even though there is little derring-do, this is a delightful account of World War II espionage.

READ REVIEW

AGENT JACK

THE TRUE STORY OF MI5'S SECRET NAZI HUNTER

Though British Nazi sympathizers never posed a major threat, MI5 took them seriously. This account of its energetic battle makes entertaining reading.

Capably bringing to light a forgotten World War II story, British political correspondent Hutton (Would They Lie to You?: How To Spin Friends and Manipulate People, 2015) begins in the 1920s with his major character, Eric Roberts, a bored bank clerk who had joined a tiny fascist group (Mussolini had many admirers during his early years). While there, he was recruited as a spy by an oddball anti-Bolshevik organization run by a wealthy businessman. Roberts turned out to have a talent for undercover work, and MI5, Britain’s minuscule internal security agency, was happy for assistance from this private intelligence service. Roberts continued to clerk, devoting free time to unpaid spying, at first on communists but then against British Nazi sympathizers. In 1940, finally flush with money, MI5 hired him full-time. A different MI5 department handled German spies; Roberts’ superiors concentrated on their British supporters, which, to their surprise, were not scarce. Even during the war’s darkest days and with prewar fascists behind bars, a scattering of Britons hoped for a Nazi victory. Their efforts revealed a mostly comic-opera incompetence, but MI5 took no chances, setting up a fake fifth-column organization with Roberts (“Agent Jack”) posing as its Nazi agent/leader. A trickle of volunteers signed up and recruited friends. Most varied from useless to wacky, but a number “were capable of inflicting serious harm on the British war effort. Had Roberts not posed as their Gestapo spymaster, they might have approached Germany directly themselves.” Few were arrested, because a trial would have blown Roberts’ cover. After an undistinguished postwar decade, Roberts retired into obscurity. Many MI5 records from WWII were destroyed, and others remain classified. While there are no firsthand participants alive to give evidence, Hutton has done an impressive job assembling transcripts, letters, interviews, and declassified documents into a delicious spy story.

Even though there is little derring-do, this is a delightful account of World War II espionage.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-22176-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more