German-American equestrians, full charge; all others may safely pass.



Convoluted tale of an American-born doctor who attempted to sabotage the U.S. effort against Germany in World War I.

Journalist Koenig’s reconstruction of the Anton Dilger story ultimately feels like a series of ironies, coincidences, near- coincidences and rumored possibilities. Dilger (1884–1918, barring, as the author suggests, a slim possibility that he faked his death) was born on the family farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, son of a German immigrant who rose to the rank of general as a renowned Union cavalry officer in the Civil War. Having returned to Germany for an extensive education culminating in medical school, he got involved as an army surgeon at the outset of hostilities in the Balkans in 1915; family and friends were already noting that he showed little interest in reestablishing American residency. At some point, with America poised to enter the War after German U-boats sank the Lusitania, Dilger went to German intelligence operatives with the idea that he could return to the U.S. as a spy and, ultimately, “germ saboteur.” The hero cavalryman’s turncoat son then set up a secret lab in Chevy Chase, Md., outside Washington, where he produced blanders and anthrax bacilli that would be used to infect horses being shipped to Europe to support the military; stevedores in U.S. ports were paid by German agents to do the actual inoculations. But Dilger’s germ warfare plan was hardly effective: Perhaps one percent of all Allied war animals died of the diseases, leaving the reader to ponder the point of its lengthy treatment here. He moved on to Mexico to foment anti-U.S. activity, also without significant consequence, before dying of Spanish flu in Madrid.

German-American equestrians, full charge; all others may safely pass.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2007

ISBN: 1-58648-372-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 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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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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