A sharply entertaining, in-depth tale of desert warriors.



From the World War Two series , Vol. 4

This fourth volume of a World War II series focuses on the North Africa campaigns.

Marquis (Spies of the Midnight Sun, 2018, etc.) continues his streak of top-notch and extremely readable World War II novels with this story of the Africa operations that puts a biographical emphasis on a handful of figures, some famous and others lesser-known. German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, the commander of the Afrika Korps at the peak of its glory and then during its worst defeats, of course features prominently. But so do Scottish Lt. Col. David Stirling, who led the Special Air Service in a series of raids on Axis airfields that eventually turned the tide of the theater’s conflict; Hekmat Fahmy, an Egyptian belly dancer who moonlighted as a German secret agent; British Maj. A.W. Sansom, a famed hunter of Axis spies and sympathizers whose story is told in intriguing detail; Lt. Johannes Eppler, a German spy who is expertly fleshed out here; and Col. Bonner Fellers, who was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal by President Franklin D. Roosevelt for his “uncanny ability” to predict the course of events in the Middle East. Through these players and a host of secondary figures, Marquis vividly reconstructs key events, including the oft-told tale of Operation Condor, which has been adapted for fiction and cinema but which the author approaches fresh. “With the relevant WWII records now available,” he writes, “it is time the true story is told.” Throughout the book, Marquis uses records and diaries in order to reconstitute dialogue, a tricky narrative move he handles with smooth skill. Likewise, he deftly evokes color and personality, whether it be his big marquee names or “the usual big-city lowlife of crooks, deserters, prostitutes, extortionists, fences, gunrunners, and hashish dealers” who populate the fringes of his story. This is a rigorous historical novel that reads like the best World War II fiction.

A sharply entertaining, in-depth tale of desert warriors.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-943593-25-5

Page Count: 378

Publisher: Mount Sopris Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2019

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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