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The Katyn Order by Douglas W. Jacobson
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's review
Jan 27, 2012

liked it

Vacillated between 2.5 and 3 on this one. The second half of the book concerning the search for a mysterious Kathy order document was more exciting than the first. I was hoping for a better read with respect to the Warsaw Uprising, in which my parents fought -- along with a 13 year old named Mikki Bandyta (pseudonym - actually Zolman Hochman). The two main protagonists reminded me a bit of my parents. My dad was dropped behind enemy lines, having been trained by the SOE as a Cichociemny and he was a saboteur and technical expert. He met my mother in the Uprising, as well as Mikki, do the stories here are close.
But, the first half of the book was not nearly as gripping as the second. I am not sure what happened. Perhaps Jacobson was not as interested in the character and relationship development aspect of the two main characters as he was in the frantic search for the Katyn document.
There are a number of annoying aspects in this book. The first has to do with my sense that Jacobson, despite his meticulous historical accuracy, had never been to some of the places that he wrote about. E.g. The Mariaski Church in Krakow is flush to the sidewalk, hence one cannot bound up the stairs of it.
Also, there is a section in which the protagonists are discussing the lack of antibiotics. I think not. Safe antibiotics were not widely available until '45-46 and then certainly not in war torn Poland during the uprising in '44. This is another boo-boo that indicates poor editing on his publisher's part -- they should have caught this.
He dropped the words "dark and silent" which is roughly the translation of Chichociemni, but never elaborates on it. Perhaps he simply meant dark and silent, but for those of us who know about the Cichociemni, it jarred. He also referred to the SOE, but for those who know little about WW II history, the SOE required some elaboration.
His editor also fell down on the job. There were many grammatical errors, the most annoying to me being the use of the word "like" instead of "as if."
The value in this novel lies in the fact that it concerns history that is not well known outside of old Polonia in the U.S. Despite the best efforts of Poles, it is also history that many in Poland would like to put behind them.
The book is also a quantum leap better than his first effort, "Night of Flames." I hope that he continues writing and making improvements to his story telling skills. It is commendable that someone is taking this history and crafting something that is geared to disseminating it to the public.
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05/07 marked as: read

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