Posts Tagged ‘Pre World War II’

Garden of Beasts by Jeffery Deaver

October 31, 2014

Garden of BeastsMob button man Paul Schumann is sure he’s doomed when he’s caught by the feds, but he’s given a choice – the electric chair, or one last job. The catch – his target is Col. Reinhardt Ernst, a bigwig in Hitler’s organization, which means going undercover in Nazi Germany to achieve his goal. Paul has been wanting to get out of the mob anyway, and the feds promise he’ll be free of charges and given a cash bonus when he’s finished. Dreaming of a normal life with the girl of his dreams, he heads for Germany.

This is a fascinating time in history, when a culture of fear led neighbors to betray each other and paranoia reigned. It was a time when citizens were trapped between duty to country and their own consciences, and Deaver portrays them with sympathy and humanity. Watching Paul navigate this complicated time and place, you really feel like you’re in 1936 Germany with him. He’s undercover as a journalist covering the Berlin Olympics, but spies are everywhere. After uncovering one spy while still en route, he dispatches a second almost immediately after arrival and finds himself pursued by the police. This is cat and mouse at its best, with Paul playing both roles in his quest for Col. Ernst. Deaver is a master of the plot twist, and he doesn’t disappoint here. The beauty of his stories is, even knowing there will be a twist, it’s nearly impossible to guess. I challenge you to try!

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

Meet popular fiction writer Jeffery Deaver at Cameron Village Regional Library on Sunday, November 9th at 2:30 pm. He will discuss his novels, characters, writing style, and more. Q & A to follow discussion. Registration requested.

Midnight in Europe by Alan Furst

October 28, 2014

Midnight in EuropeCristián Ferrar is a Spanish (or rather, Catalan) émigré who lives and works in Paris, France. His employer is the law firm Coudert Frères, and the firm does a good deal of international work. Recently, some international cases have become more complicated due to the Spanish Civil War, “now in its seventeenth month; individuals and corporations cut off from their money, families in hiding because they were trapped on the wrong side – whatever side that was – burnt homes, burnt factories, with no means of proving anything to insurance companies, or banks, or government bureaucracies.”

At the same time, the way of life of the French Republic, with its deep democratic roots, is seriously challenged. Right-wing extremists rule neighboring Germany and Italy, and now the Spanish Republic is about to fall into the hands of Franco’s fascists and his conservative supporters. The Republic does not have many allies in the world – Mexico and the Soviet Union give their support, but other than that the international aid mainly consists of volunteers from around the globe; mostly workers, anti-fascists, social democrats, socialists, communists, and anarchists. Ferrar is also willing to contribute to the cause, and when he is contacted by a general of the Republic he sees a chance to help out. German and Italian pilots have shown the world the future of warfare, and the Spanish Republic needs anti-aircraft guns to survive. Where to find them, though? The Soviet Union turns out to be the best option. But the U.S.S.R. will not sell the weaponry. The Soviets want to hold on to the firepower they have. So the equipment has to be stolen.

A small band of idealists and hired gangsters organize the job, and they will find opposition on every level: honey traps, harbor spies, and armed servants of the far right.

Again, Alan Furst creates a mosaic of a European midnight, where people who have never before met come to share path through life as a war of ideologies engulfs the continent.

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Mission to Paris by Alan Furst

January 29, 2013

It’s the autumn of 1938. France is almost completely surrounded by fascist dictatorships and a Germany governed by NSDAP. The hounds of all-out war have not yet been unleashed, but Germany is waging political warfare against France. The Germans have allied themselves with French right-wingers who abhor and want to destroy democracy in the country, and who wish to replace it with an authoritarian government that will rid France of socialists, communists, and labor unions once and for all.

And now Frederic Stahl, a Hollywood star born in Vienna, Austria, with a Slovene father, sits in his Parisian hotel room. He’s in France to make a movie, loaned out by Warner Bros., and in the newspaper Le Matin he reads, “Hollywood Star Frederic Stahl Speaks Out for Rapprochement.” The quotes in the article are not inaccurate per se, but they are presented in a way that turns Stahl into something he is not. Forces he wants nothing to do with are using his name and public image to promote their ideas; they have him speak out against French re-armament and preparation for war.

Being a famous and important person from a powerful part of the world, people will listen to Stahl and perhaps even change their minds when they hear him share his opinions. He is an agent of sorts, an agent of influence. Stahl understands this and wants to do “something, anything, even a small thing,” to fight back, and he becomes part of an informal espionage service run out of the American embassy in Paris.

When the actor arrives in Berlin for a film festival, his worst fears are confirmed as Kristallnacht breaks out and destroys tens of thousands of Jewish lives – soon enough Frederic Stahl’s own life is in danger.

Like so many of Alan Furst’s heroes, Frederic Stahl is (to use a phrase from the novel) “a warm man in a cold world,” and in a time of fear and resignation he takes a stance for what he believes in – a world where dialogue and not violence shapes societies. Mission to Paris takes place just before World War II, but it has distinct contemporary resonance, and the novel asks the reader, “What do you want to do?”

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

See previous blog posts of other Alan Furst titles, Red Gold and Dark Star.

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

October 18, 2012

Most of us have studied World War II, we know of the rise of Germany in the thirties and we know of the atrocities committed by Hitler and his henchmen, Goebbels, Himmler, Goring, Diels , Eichmann and the like. We certainly are familiar with the unbelievable details of the Holocaust. But what was it like to live in the Germany of the 30s? What was it like to be a foreigner in Berlin? Erik Larson has written the definitive non-fiction story of Berlin at that point of history. The focus of the story is the family of William Dodd, a professor from Chicago, who Roosevelt appoints to be the American ambassador to Germany. Dodd takes his entire family with him , his wife, Mattie and his grown children, Bill and Martha.

And what they see is at first totally confusing. On the outside is the facade of a modern, charming Berlin but the reports that they receive of the horrors and the brutalities visited on the residents that don’t adhere to the philosophy of the Third Reich is beyond belief……especially the treatment of Germany’s Jewish citizens.Martha is infatuated with the German officers that she meets. She is a bit of a romantic who can’t believe the stories that she hears. Terror has to strike closer to her family before she realizes what is happening in Germany.

As much as may think you know about the Third Reich, you really have a lot more to learn. Please take the time to read this fascinating story of the development of the Third Reich by Erik Larson.

Fun Fact: William Edward Dodd was born in 1869 near Clayton North Carolina.

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