The seventh installment of Griffin's Men at War series dramatizes a pivotal moment in the campaign against Hitler, who plans on hitting London with "aerial torpedos" laced with nerve gas—this while the U.S. is still developing the atomic bomb back home.
The book opens in German-occupied Poland in the summer of 1943. Polish guerillas blow up railroad tracks to stop a train carrying scores of Jews to a death camp, only to a derail a private train with one car carrying a top Nazi officer. The incident sets in motion intelligence activities in Germany, Italy and Algeria designed to infiltrate the Nazis, turn some of Hitler's generals against him, and clear the way for the American invasion of Normandy—which Churchill steadfastly opposes, preferring to attack through the Mediterranean. There's also the question of who is selling Manhattan Project secrets to the Soviets. At the heart of the narrative are "Wild Bill" Donovan, headstrong chief of the Office of Strategic Services; his top agent, strapping 26-year-old Dick Canidy; Allen Dulles, head of the OSS in Switzerland; and his sympathetic old friend, German industrialist Wolfgang Kappler, whose son Oskar is a die-hard member of the SS. Hitler's top scientist, Wernher von Braun, plays a significant role in developing the V-2 rocket, years before he was whisked to the U.S. Griffin and Butterworth, his son, are completely at ease mixing fact and fiction, skillfully piecing together pieces of their narrative puzzle. Their writing is straightforward to a fault, sometimes reminding you of a scholastic "You Are There" novel, but the book never sags, and the characters never lose our interest.
A knowing thriller in which the world must be saved on several fronts from the fascist threat.