LOYALTIES by Thomas Fleming


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 Turning once again to WW II, bestselling historical novelist Fleming (Over There, 1992, etc.) blends fact and fiction to explore the ramifications of the Allied demand for unconditional surrender through the lives of four people. His ``facts,'' however, are at the very least open to differing interpretations and may anger some readers. In Berlin, Berthe von Hoffman experiences a mystical religious conversion when she sees the horror of Kristallnacht and the bravery of a young German Lutheran pastor, leading her to become a secret agent for the German Resistance. This puts her at odds with her husband, Ernst, a dedicated U-boat commander whose unstinting commitment to his nation's cause will eventually lead him to lose his sense of honor. Shortly before Pearl Harbor, Ernst's U-boat mistakenly sinks the USS Spencer Lewis and then rescues from the sea Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Talbot. This young officer is outspoken with his doubts about the way FDR is maneuvering America into the war, putting him at odds with his wife, Annie, the daughter of a powerful Democratic pol. Both men end up as naval attachÇs in neutral Spain within months. There, Berthe and Jonathan begin a star-crossed affair, both working for some acceptable negotiated resolution to the fighting short of unconditional surrender. Ernst goes back to sea and then to a desk job high in the German Command, and Annie becomes a top-notch political reporter and eventually a war correspondent. Through a series of unlikely coincidences, their four paths cross again and again throughout the war, culminating in an improbable rescue mission during the fall of Berlin. Fleming makes a good case for the wrongheadedness of the Allies' policy of no compromise and their denial of the existence of a resistance movement. But he hurts his credibility with unstinting antagonism toward FDR and virtually every New Deal figure who appears in these pages. Melodramatic as always, but more controversial than usual. ($30,000 ad/promo)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-06-017709-8
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1994


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