THE TRAITOR by William L. Shirer


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This is the kind of first novel it was almost inevitable Willian Shirer would write. It isn't really a good novel, but it has a lot of good reading in it. The factual reportage, of the years of war in Berlin, have much of the detail that made Berlin Diary so unforgettable. The perceptive probing of the psychology of an American journalist turned traitor is convincing, and while only occasionally does one have a flash of sympathy for Oliver Knight, somehow Shirer keeps him from being utterly despicable. The Germans are vigorously drawn, though they emerge as types rather than individuals,- the SS man, the cold brain, the humble citizen who has almost the courage to speak out, the woman on the make, and so on. Jack Goodman, journalist who understands what is happening- and hates it, who doesn't want to give up the possibility of saving Oliver from himself, is typed as the right sort of American fighting for democracy on all levels; as a human being he lacks dimensions, though the reader feels that Shirer is inevitably making his character autobiographical- or perhaps a blend of several journalists close to him. The march of the war -- the sweep of victory -- the paralysis of defeat --and the years between, pace the action, which somehow seems secondary. In exposition, in description, in reporting, The Traitor vigorously gives us back bleak memories; in plot structure and characterization, it bears the marks of a partially mastered technique in the making.
Pub Date: Nov. 3rd, 1950
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Co
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1950


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