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Ordinary Heroes

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Stewart Dubinsky knew his father. David, had served in World War II, but had told very little about his experiences. When he finds, after his father's death, a packet of wartime letters to a former fiancee and learns of David's court-martial, Stewart is driven to uncover the truth about the enigmatic distant man he never knew. Using military archives, old letters, and David's own notes, he discovers that David, a JAG lawyer, had pursued a maverick U.S. officer in Europe, fallen in love with a beautiful resistance fighter, and fought in the war's deadliest conflicts. In reconstructing the terrible events and agonizing choices his father faced on the battlefield, in the courtrfoom, and in love, Stewart gains a closer understanding of his father's secret past and of the brutal nature of war itself.
-- back cover

494 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published November 1, 2005

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About the author

Scott Turow

93 books1,823 followers
Scott Turow is the author of ten bestselling works of fiction, including IDENTICAL, INNOCENT, PRESUMED INNOCENT, and THE BURDEN OF PROOF, and two nonfiction books, including ONE L, about his experience as a law student. His books have been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, and have been adapted into movies and television projects. He has frequently contributed essays and op-ed pieces to publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 459 reviews
Profile Image for  ⊱Sonja•●❤️.
2,069 reviews386 followers
January 20, 2023
2,5 Sterne
Vielleicht bin ich mit falschen Erwartungen an dieses Buch gegangen, aber die Inhaltsangabe klang verlockend. Ein Sohn entdeckt nach dem Tod seines Vaters 60 Jahre alte Briefe und erkennt, dass sein Vater einige Geheimnisse hatte, die auch seine Familiengeschichte betreffen.
Die Geschichte wird dann auf zwei Zeitebenen erzählt. Einmal sind wir mit dem Sohn in der Gegenwart, dann sind wir mit dem Vater im Jahr 1944 mitten im Zweiten Weltkrieg.
Eigentlich mag ich solche Geschichten richtig gerne. Geheimnisse aus der Vergangenheit, Familiengeschichten, Schicksale aus der Zeit des Ersten oder Zweiten Weltkrieges. Zumeist sind diese Geschichten sehr emotional. Das habe ich hier vermisst.
Der größte Teil des Buches spielt sich in der Vergangenheit ab auf Kriegsschauplätzen. Mir persönlich war das etwas zu viel.
Und die Liebesgeschichte, um die es hier auch irgendwie geht, kam nicht wirklich bei mir an.
Ich kann nachvollziehen, warum das Buch so viele gute Bewertungen hat, aber meinen Lesegeschmack hat es leider nicht getroffen.
Profile Image for Joy D.
1,784 reviews213 followers
June 30, 2020
Dual timeline story of a father and son. In the early 2000’s, Stewart Dubinsky, son of lawyer David Dubin, searches through his father’s WWII service records to find out why he was court marshalled. He uncovers a related mystery within these records of what happened to an American suspected of spying for the Russians, whom his father was sent to arrest. Stewart finds out his father was involved in the Battle of the Bulge and he uncovers several family secrets.

First, the positives. The beginning of this book is setup in an interesting manner and generates curiosity in the reader. It is well-written, and the WWII era feels authentic. The author clearly shows the horrors of war (it is not for people easily disturbed by gruesome descriptions of war-related violence). I listened to the audio CDs, narrated by Edward Herman. He does an excellent job of voice modulation and his reading voice is pleasing to the ear.

The primary downside is the construct. A manuscript, written by David Dubin at the request of his legal counsel, is the vehicle to be used in his defense. Unfortunately, this document contains intimate details of sexual nature, and it is a stretch to believe Dubin would have included such information. I think the reader is supposed to like the supporting characters, Robert Martin, the alleged spy, and Gita Lodz, his accomplice, but I found it difficult – they struck me as extremely unpleasant. The WWII storyline is more compelling and better developed than the present-day narrative. I liked it but cannot say I liked it a lot.
Profile Image for Freda Malone.
378 reviews59 followers
March 23, 2016
Save for the preface of this intensely written novel, I can honestly say without a doubt it was one of the most horrific fictional tales I’ve read about WWII. Much of the facts were present as the writer clearly explains the research he did before publishing this novel. It was enlightening chaotic! So much of WWII was confusing as it was with most wars that came ‘before’ and ‘after’. I still get nauseous when I hear about prisoners of any war, unjustly starved, tortured, and killed, just for being ‘them’. It is senseless to say the least.

Ordinary Heroes. Just one story out of millions told and untold, even if fictional, was factual and believable enough to give us some insight to the agonizing choices and consequences of being some part of a war, any war. Whether a president, a soldier, a revolutionary, a country man or woman, a civilian; each one, a hero in some form. This book was an intense prompter, to live the life you are given to the fullest, stand up for what you believe in and help those who are less fortunate or weaker. Oh, and also have at least one romantic encounter and don’t be afraid to tell people your most embarrassing human moment.

I still feel awed by the power of emotions and the philosophical aspect of people who live to tell the tale of their fight to survive war. Wisdom often comes from experience and I loved this story enough to give it a ‘wise’ five star rating.
Profile Image for Carol Orange.
Author 1 book111 followers
May 5, 2020
After his father’s death Stewart Dubinsky is compelled to unravel the mystery of his father’s past life as a lieutenant during World War ll. When he was alive his father refused to talk about it. Going against his mother’s wishes, Stewart examines military archives, letters and notes from a memoir his father wrote while he was in prison. Stewart interviews Bear Leach, his father’s elderly lawyer who saved David Dubin’s life. Dubin was court-martialed for allowing Robert Martin, a maverick OSS officer accused of insubordination and possibly spying for the Russians, to escape from Germany.

While Turow is known for his legal thrillers – I loved Presumed Innocent - this war story runs deep. David Dubin was a military lawyer, tested by the horrors of war. He met his wife, Stewart’s mother, when he helped liberate a concentration camp. Her story, which is also remarkable, is woven into the narrative of uncovering family secrets.

Turow has conducted thorough research of this troubling time, and it shows. His descriptions of the European war as Patton’s army fights against the Nazis are painfully real . His characters, especially Stewart, Leach, Biddy and Gita Lodz, are memorable. There is a wonderful surprise ending. As Alan Furst predicted in his blurb, I couldn’t put it down.
Profile Image for Paul Falk.
Author 9 books128 followers
May 10, 2017
This is the first book I've read by Scott Turow and I must admit, I really lucked out. As the story progressed, the momentum continued to build like a snowball going down a hill. There was no putting the book down. I didn't know that anyone could capture my emotions the way he did as I continued to read on. There were times when I was too repulsed to continue to read any further but I couldn't stop.
I was already too involved.

The secret life of David Dubin, a JAG officer during World War II, was revealed to his son Stewart. This happened while his son was going through his father's personal belongings. His father had recently passed away. Damning letters that his father had kept hidden away from prying eyes were no longer a secret. Stewart was appalled to learn that his father had been carrying on a love affair with another woman. For Christ's sake, he was married! And if that wasn't enough of a blow to the stomach, he had also been arrested and recommended for a court-martial. He wondered, who was this man?

This became an obsession and Stewart needed to learn, no, he had to learn everything he could about the man he never really knew. With luck on his side, he found the lawyer who represented his father during the war. Now, he was well into his nineties. They worked together, and slowly, reassembled his father's life during the war. What he ultimately learned was earth-shattering. So much so that his feelings about his father had forever changed.

The author blew me away as he brought to life all-too-real gut-wrenching, tragedies of war that rained down upon much of the world during one of the darkest times of our nation's history. At times, the unbearable, grizzly facts of senseless, human suffering were shown to be exceedingly graphic. Sadly, we had come to witness on a more personal level, the psychological degradation of someone's life.
Profile Image for Checkman.
508 reviews75 followers
April 22, 2017
3.5 Stars
This book resonated with me. Having lost my father last August (08/16/16) the plot had a bit more punch then it would have say in April of last year. When the story begins the narrator has just lost his father. A few days later he is sorting through his dad's effects and he comes across documents indicating that his father's experience in world War II might have been more than he had been told. He embarks on a self appointed mission to find out the "truth" about his father's World War II experience. What he learns surprises him - actually shocks him. He realizes that his parents are not necessarily the people he thought they were. This is probably true for most of us; both as offspring and in terms of our children's opinions about us.

Much of the story consists of the father's memoirs and this is the strongest part of the book. In his notes Turow states that he based much of the wartime exploits on his father's experience as an Army surgeon in western Europe during world War II and I believe it. The experiences are gripping, but they aren't the stuff of Rambo. There was an air of authenticity and I liked that. When the book goes back to the present ,and the son's narrative, it loses that power. Not that the son's narrative is badly written (it isn't), but it isn't war either. It's simply a middle aged man exploring his parent's history.

In the end the title of the novel becomes apparent. The focus is on ordinary people caught up in an extraordinary and horrific event - a world war. What they really desire, as do most of us, is an ordinary safe life. The fact that they are able to function in such conditions ,and accomplish anything, is extraordinary. It's apparent that Turow realizes this about the World War II generation (his parent's generation) and it comes out in the writing. The generation isn't placed on a pedestal. There is no "greatest generation" writing here (the failings are mentioned such as racism), but there is still admiration. Turow admires the ordinary people who return to living their lives when the war ends. It's clear that he believes they are more deserving of our admiration than the fire-breathing generals or heroic men of action who are incapable of just living when there is no killing going on.

"Ordinary Heroes" is a solidly written piece of mainstream fiction. It's well researched and strives to present a more accurate depiction of life in a war zone without a large amount of Hollywood heroics thrown in to spice things up. As I wrote at the start of this review the book packed a bit more punch because of my personal circumstances. For those of you who still have your parents you will probably find it to be an interesting, but not too heavy, piece of historical fiction. If it was thirty years ago I would say this book would make an excellent two or three part television mini-series. That should give you an idea of what to expect if you elect to give it a go.

A Caveat: For those among you who are serious World War II history-buffs I feel that I should give you a warning. Turow creates fictional United States Army Armored Division (18th Armor Division) which plays a significant role in the plot. If you hate it when authors do this then avoid this book.
Profile Image for Lewis Ngugi.
57 reviews6 followers
January 8, 2019
So today as I was reading the last few chapters in a restaurant and in my commute, I was filled with anxiety, shock, joy, fear and to make it even simpler, I connected with David at times. This book is a work of art! I started reading it in 2017 and reached like an eighth and then stayed more than a year without reading it. When I came back to read, everything cane back. The story had stuck with me. To those who died in World War II, we are grateful for fighting the atrocities caused by Hitler. Thank you Scott Turow, this was amazing! Sad that I had to finish.
Profile Image for Larry Bassett.
1,395 reviews290 followers
June 3, 2012
This is my first time to read Scott Turow and I understand that this book is a departure from his normal writing of mystery/thrillers. He has written several nonfiction books including one on the death penalty and another on his first year at Harvard Law School as well as this historical fiction offering. There is a contingent of lawyers who have added writing fiction books to their achievements. Turow is a skilled writer and he puts his legal knowledge to good use.

Turow appears to give away the conclusion about a quarter of the way into the book. He pulls this tactic off well and adds suspense. You might think you know something but, like a good mystery, you must be careful about taking things at face value.

There is an interesting several pages “A Note on Sources” that is worth reading if you would like to know why Ordinary Heroes is characterized as historical fiction and what sources Turow used in combining the real with the imaginary. Among other sources, his use of his father’s war experiences and correspondence is exemplary of how he developed his story with some fact and some fiction.

It is a book that takes you into war, up close with all the horror and terror. It seemed that Turow must have been a contest to see who can be the most gruesome. You can skip the next paragraph if you want to take my word for it that Turow might just have had the contest winner.

I thought about giving Turow star off for being unnecessarily gross. I have read quite a few war books recently and this one is more graphic than most. To what point, I am not sure. What does Turow have to suggest? “Four weeks ago I had seen nothing like this. Now it remained awful, but routine.” Are we that adaptable?

There is plenty of good writing here. A war story. A spy story. A love story. A mystery. Ordinary Heroes easily gets four stars from me. I am looking forward to reading more Scott Turow.
Profile Image for Correen.
1,112 reviews
December 13, 2013

The horrors of war, the limitations of law, the contradictions of society. Life is not as it appears. Turow writes of human values, of law, an of human nature. He develops his characters well and tells interesting stories, and is worth reading.
Profile Image for Pam Carrie.
47 reviews3 followers
November 2, 2012
Scott Turow's descriptions of the physical and mental pain faced by WWII soldiers reminded me that all wartime soldiers must come home with varying degrees of post-traumatic stress syndrome. It is difficult for some and impossible for others to assimilate back to the "normal" world.

As Stuart Dubinsky uncovers the journal kept by his father, David Dubin, he is amazed to learn about a part of his parents' lives that they never discussed. The wartime horrors and twisted political affiliations that jerked people from their homes and families were best left in the past according to David's father. The one true message of the book to me is to live in the present rather than to constantly relive one's past.
Profile Image for Nancy Mills.
389 reviews26 followers
September 22, 2018
Great WWII tale of combat, courage and possible espionage. Listened to the audiobook and greatly enjoyed it, very well written and moves along fast.
Profile Image for Simon.
995 reviews4 followers
March 22, 2015
At times I got drawn into thinking I was reading a better book. The overall plot structure is good, albeit parallel in large part with Band of Brothers. Occasionally there seems wisdom, but it seems wisdom that has been learnt from a manual. As a Brit, I don't mind the Americans winning the war interpretation, though I do mind the British accents that seem to have been learnt from watching Passport to Pimlico. It falls short in characterisation and the filling. One, there is too much of it (was an editor involved at all?) and two it is often just that; filling. I reckon there is a really good shorter novel in here if you just blue pencil the badly written bits.
The main character gets close to heroic at times but can never quite manage to come across as a 1940s storyteller. A lot of his impressions are from a later date. The other characters are not well realised. The maverick resistance fighter is apparently a work of imagination and seems so. The woman is not believable in the way she is drawn and the storytelling, investigative son Stewart is exactly the sort of person an essentially decent man like David Dubin would keep his story secret from.
I seemed to be reading the book for a very long time.
Profile Image for Bookmarks Magazine.
2,042 reviews716 followers
February 5, 2009

Retired reporter Stewart Dubinsky last made an appearance in Presumed Innocent (1987). Here, the self-lacerating Dubinsky delves deep into his family's wartime history__one loosely based on Turow's father's experiences. For critics, the question is whether a legal-thriller writer can succeed in another genre__and the answers vary. Out of the courtroom, Turow remains an effective storyteller whose characters (Gita in particular) and details of war create immediacy and intrigue. However, his usual spark seems to be missing. A few critics faulted the novel for introducing too much history, too many mysteries, and too many themes__from war to love to family secrets. In the end, the personal dramas that characterize Turow's best works carry this story-within-a-story, too.

This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine.

Profile Image for Jacquie.
311 reviews1 follower
May 11, 2021
I really enjoyed Ordinary Heroes. I wish I had put my dads story from the war to paper. It is something the next generations should understand.

Scott really puts a lot of in depth investigation and emotion in his books. It reads smoothly and fast paced.
Profile Image for David Highton.
2,803 reviews15 followers
July 30, 2017
A cleverly constructed and compelling book from Scott Turow, very different from his legal thrillers. Stewart Dubinsky discovers WWII papers after his father's death which lead him to doggedly pursue the gripping story of his father's war - an horrific description of combat in the Battle of Bulge as the Germans encircled US troops with many casualties, but also his experiences as a military lawyer. In particular his interaction with a rogue OSS officer and the profound impact it has on his father's life.
Profile Image for Geetha.
114 reviews7 followers
July 29, 2020
I have read many works of historical fiction based on the Second World War; this one was different from all of them. For starters, the main character in the novel is not a soldier or spy but a lawyer in the U.S. Army. To be honest, I have never thought about the need for lawyers in a war but of course there are deserters, there is improper conduct, there is insubordination and there are court-martials, so I see the need for lawyers in a war zone. 88 year old David Dubin, has just died at the start of the story. His son, Stewart, while going through his father’s personal belongings, comes to know that his father had held many secrets from his children about his involvement in the war. Stewart finds out that his father was arrested and court-martialled, that he had a fiancé whom he did not marry. A journalist by profession, Stewart seeks to uncover his father’s story, only to find out from his father’s lawyer a 96 year old Barrington Leach, that the story already has been told in the form of a memoir written by his father. And so, our novel goes back and forth in time, told sometimes in the words of the father and sometimes in the words of his son.
During WWII, David Dubin was tasked with finding and arresting an American soldier, Robert Martin. Robert Martin has been accused of being insubordinate both to General Teedle to whom he reports and also to the OSS (a forefather to the CIA) whose agent he is. To add to that, he is suspected of being a Soviet Spy. David comes to know the charming, courageous and insubordinate Robert Martin and his accomplice Gita Lodz. Very early on in the novel we come to know that at the end of the war, David was court- martialled for finally capturing Robert Martin and then letting him go.
The author maintains the suspense in the novel right until the end. Neither David Dubin nor the reader can tell until the very end if Robert Martin is a patriot though sometimes gone rogue or if he is working for the enemy. The novel is a war story with some of the most brutal, probably authentic descriptions of the horrors of war. David’s pursuit of Martin is suspended for a while when he gets involved in the horrific warfare at Bastogne in the Battle of the Bulge at the Ardennes. The book is a thriller; it is a love story. It is a story of loyalty, courage, moral conflicts and choices and living with secrets. I would give the book 4 stars instead of five only because I found the pace a little slow in the middle of the book but by the end, I could not put it down!
There is plenty of historical background in the novel, the Battle of the Bulge, the last German offensive in Europe, the German Nuclear Program and the race to build the bomb, the concentration camp at Balingen.
The characters are all well developed. I did not see the end coming. Unlike many books of action, this novel is also well written. This was my first book of Scott Turow’s. He is far more literary than say a Grisham. I will be looking forward to reading more of Turow’s books.
Profile Image for Craig Monson.
Author 8 books32 followers
August 9, 2017
Whether through authorial ambition, seriousness of purpose, artistic determination, (or whatever), Turow seems consistently emboldened to avoid popping out books, like so many sausages, following a successful, kitchen-tested recipe that might grow increasingly familiar. Ordinary Heroes stands notably apart from its predecessors as something of a surprise, one that some Turow fans may find less palatable: a war story. The book’s pronounced romantic, barely-secondary plot offers something quite different from other Turow mysteries, too (unless one count’s Sandy Stern’s fumbling attempts to get back into the game after his wife’s suicide a book or two back). The Kendle County judiciary is replaced by the Judge Advocate General’s Corps in Europe in 1944, not long after D-Day. But the narrative time-travels repeatedly back and forth between war-torn Belgium and Germany, and the early-2000s US (requiring readers to pay a little extra attention), as a middle-aged journalist works to uncover his own answers to that no longer so familiar household question, “What did you do in the War, Daddy?”

It turns out that Dad had done quite a lot, in fact: readers find themselves plunged into life’s grimmer realities of the sort more familiar in Philip Kerr: this may not be a book for those who read chiefly to escape reality. Innumerable little details of wartime, tellingly told, have the ring of truth, and the Afterward reveals that Turow has done his homework: some of the more gripping moments, which might at first have sounded improbable, borrow soldiers’ actual remembrances. (The abrupt, senseless, almost off-hand killing of the hero’s closest friend, on the other hand, is the sort of thing that has increasingly become apple pie on the western side of the Atlantic.) Although this is fiction, not NON-fiction, given the vivid sense of reality elsewhere, the occasional moment that seems to slide inexorably into the realm of Dwayne Johnson or Sylvester Stallone can require readers' determined suspension of disbelief. Turow’s accustomed willingness to hint at difficult truths without preaching too righteously may mean he has at least some chance of being heard.

Profile Image for Tatiana.
839 reviews59 followers
June 19, 2017
I can’t explain how I connect music to books. I heard The Fray’s “How to Save a Life” on the radio in the car this afternoon and it took me back to when I was reading Ordinary Heroes. The more I thought on the link, the more Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” also came to me as associated with it. Hmm.

It’s been years (2006, I think) since I read Scott Turow’s WWII novel about a son’s journey into his father’s and mother’s pasts through letters and other written artifacts. Unlike a lot of the reviewers here on GR, I haven’t read Turow’s other, law-oriented novels, and I love WWII historical fiction, especially anything to do with OSS/French Resistance spies, so I thought this was an excellent addition to the genre.

I don’t recall every detail of the plot, but I do remember prominently two things: 1) I figured out Gita’s identity “twist” well before it was revealed, not that it was veiled that mystifyingly; and 2) I was super disappointed that the story itself wasn’t based on real events. The WWII parts felt particularly real to me (not so much the present day stuff, which is usually the case for historical fiction).

Anyway, that’s what came to me today. My brain works in odd ways. And now I’m left wondering if this review is a better promoter of The Fray or Ordinary Heroes. Take my advice and listen to the former while reading the latter. ;)
Profile Image for Larry Hinman.
31 reviews1 follower
January 21, 2012
Scott Turow's novels are thoughtful and illuminating explorations of the inter lives of men of my generation. Some might say that this would make them very short novels, but not so! This particular novel is, at least geographically, far from Turow's usual locale of Kindle County. (I assume he chose that name before Amazon;s use of it.)

One small example: the main character, in the middle of trying to sort things out in his own life, is tailing with his best friend: "...trusting Biddy [his friend] more than anyone else, things were a good deal clearer in his company." This is one of the benefits of good friends: we become clearer about ourselves and about life in general when we are in their presence. Even more basically, we like who we are with them.

Reading Turow, I find that truths about my life, and the lives of those I care about, become clearer and their significance emerges more powerfully.
Profile Image for Karl Jorgenson.
523 reviews26 followers
November 9, 2019
Turow steps away from Kindle County lawyers for this stand-alone and creates a WWII thriller, in structure the retelling by the protagonist's son upon the father's death (why chose that approach? Why pop in and out of the 1944 story with, 'I read my father's manuscript until midnight, then dropped into a troubled sleep,' before jumping back in time for the next chapter? I don't get it; it has an old-timey feel, like the author can't be responsible for graphic portrayals of war and needs to pass it on to a character in the story.)
Turow brings his powerful and evocative writing to this subject, war and its victims. Because Turow is a better writer, this is a better WWII novel than almost any other I've read. And, being Turow, he can't quite let go of his shtick--the protagonist is a JAG officer, an army lawyer from Kindle County.
Profile Image for Lianda Ludwig.
69 reviews6 followers
March 23, 2014
Scott Turow is definitely one of my favorite writers. Although there is a legal aspect to this book, it is so much more. It's the story of how an adult son discovers his father's life after he passes away. My parents were veterans of World War 2, and knowing how neither would talk about their experiences, this book gave me a different perspective of their lives at the time.
Well written, character driven, and with a great story, this book was very moving.
Profile Image for Bryan.
131 reviews
September 3, 2009
Easy review: Best novel I've ever read

If you read the summary and it is of any interest to you, read this book
If you enjoy historical fiction, read this book
If WWII is a subject that interests you, read this book
Profile Image for Dom Perry.
284 reviews3 followers
February 22, 2017
I thought the beginning was kind of slow, but other than that, this was a great book! The attention to detail is exquisite and some of the events described in this book will probably haunt me for the rest of my life. The twist with Gita was a nice touch and the ending was amazingly done.
Profile Image for Maria.
132 reviews36 followers
January 2, 2011
I've never read this author. I'm impressed - good for those who enjoy this type of WW2 espionage-ish thriller; the characterizations are realistic and the story engrossing, better than the usual.
Profile Image for Jane.
13 reviews1 follower
April 2, 2021
Another of my favorite WWII novels, with fascinating characters, and alternating narrations by the 50-something present-day son and his recently deceased 80-something father describing his life-changing experiences during the war that he could never (in person, anyway) tell his children. Few of us get to know our parents as the people they were before they became our parents, and many of us had fathers who served in the military in WWII but never really wanted to say much about it after that chapter of their lives was over. The author had me at an early chapter titled "All parents have secrets." A great story, well written. I was sorry to have to let that Kindle copy go back to the library when I was done reading -- and in some places, re-reading it. Let's just say there was a whole of highlighting on my Kindle during that book, and it's a book I would love to have on my actual bookshelf.
Profile Image for Chery Ann Wills.
Author 5 books16 followers
March 27, 2017
A tremendously well written book that kept me from work! The story was so real, the characters to believable, the plot so intriguing. The insight into the hearts of people involved in war was intuitive. Sprinkled throughout were basic truths about God, life and war that made me pause. I 'read' the audio version. The narrator's various voices, inflections, accents made it real and every bit as good as a fully dramatized version. He kept me awake while driving; most audio books knock me out when i'm behind the wheel. The narrator was Edward Herrmann. I will seek books he narrates and those written by Scott Turow.
Profile Image for Patricia.
415 reviews5 followers
April 1, 2020
Clearly a 5*****!!! What a remarkable change for Scott Turow.... (Exceptional Writing ) Knowing the story is probable TRUE, how HORRIBLE it would have been, I just can't imagine...
Profile Image for Tania.
1,287 reviews29 followers
February 2, 2017
The narrative of Ordinary Heroes is gripping from the start - a journalist son looks into his deceased father's mysterious military past, hoping to find answers as to why he could never quite forge the father-son relationship that he so wanted. We soon begin this journey - hopping from the present day Midwest to Northern Europe during World War II. Here we find David Dubin, Spencer's father, taking part in WWII and all its glory and terribleness. Dubin is a lawyer for the army, who soon finds himself embroiled in conflict and on dangerous missions that he doesn't fully understand. Through all of this, Dubin's illusion that war is just and beautiful crumble as he comes face to face with the terrors of battle and failings of mankind. Yet all of this is just background for Dubin's true journey, which becomes Spencer's answer to all he has ever wondered.

Not as much a thriller as it is an introspective of a soldier, this book still carries its own weight. I found it moved along quickly enough to keep me engaged. We do understand David Dubin by the end, and we understand the burden of war. There is no glossing over of just what was so terrible during a soldier's experience, or of how much each man struggled with what was right and what was convenient. Here Turow seems to have put much thought and research into the time period, setting, and experiences, and that translates into a very believable story.
1,911 reviews10 followers
November 12, 2018
In this novel Scott Turow turns his writing away from the courtroom and his legal thrillers to a very different kind of book set on the battlefields of World War II. Stewart Dubinski, a retired journalist, is going through his father’s papers. David Dubin (his father, sensitive to his Jewish heritage, had changed his name), had died recently and Stewart was not looking forward to wading through all the files in his office. In the back of his mind was the uneasy distant relationship he had with his father and he had put off the work for as long as he could, not sure what he would find. What he did uncover set him out on an important life journey, one that changed the way he saw his father as well as himself.

David Dubin, (his father sensitive to his Jewish heritage had changed his name) was a young idealistic lawyer just beginning his legal career when he volunteered to serve in World War II. The only thing Stewart knew about his father’s war experience was that he had rescued his mother from the Balingen concentration camp as his father would never talk about those times. So Stewart is both surprised and intrigued to find papers from that time period including letters addressed to a former fianceé in his records.

This discovery and later documents he tracks down tell an intriguing and terrifying story of his father’s time in war torn Europe. It reveals information about a spy his father helped escape and his imprisonment and court martial for that crime. But before Stewart can know the entire story, he must piece it together himself, as it is clear his father was determined to keep this part of his life secret and known only to himself.

As a journalist, Stewart knows how to chase down a story and he is determined to know the meaning of the papers he has found. This work takes him to the military archives and eventually to a man named Barrington Leach, the lawyer who defended his father in court, now elderly and living in a nursing home. When Stewart shares with Leach what he is trying to do, Leach tries to dissuade him from digging into his father’s past, telling Stewart he may uncover information which will be difficult for him to accept. Leach gives Stewart a package of documents he has quietly kept for years, a package that contains a journal David Dubin wrote in prison and the defense Leach put together to defend Stewart’s father at his trial. It is with these key documents that Stewart reconstructs the long chain of events that occurred during the war and ultimately provides Stewart with a better understanding of his father.

The novel is written in flashbacks as Stewart learns that his father was ordered by his commander to locate and bring back a man named Robert Martin, a war hero who was ignoring his messages, had cut off ties with his commander and was somewhere in occupied France. Martin appeared to have gone rogue and there were even suspicions he might be a spy. But when David finally meets Martin, he begins to question what he has been ordered to do. Martin’s followers are awed by his courage and bravery, respect his leadership and follow his command even in the face of grave danger. Martin slips away from Stewart’s grasp early one morning to go off on another covert mission and Stewart must follow him across the battlefields, inadvertently becoming involved in the fighting. He parachutes into France at night, is pushed into leading what remains of a depleted rifle company and puts his hunt for Martin aside while he fights through a long, horrible, cold winter. Pulled into the battlefield and brutally initiated into active combat, he finds himself facing perplexing moral questions about the man he has been ordered to bring back to be imprisoned. The fact that he has developed a relationship with Richard Martin’s lover thoroughly complicates both his feelings and his actions. Martin’s fellow soldiers insist he is a brave patriot but his commanding officer believes he is a communist sympathizer. David Dubin is not sure which is the truth.

Turow powerfully describes the final bloody months of the war and the terrible struggle young soldiers faced both mentally and physically. Like others who have written about the battlefields of World War II, Turow is able to bring the reader’s experience right up to the men showered by enemy fire with the noise, confusion and savagery of battle. There is the constant deafening sounds of gunfire, the bloody sucking wounds, the mud and the cold. But Turow does it all in very straight forward prose, making events such as the silent garroting of an enemy soldier even more horrifying in its simplicity. There are shocking scenes as each man tries to obliterate the enemy at any cost, exposing the moral consequences of violent wartime behavior on both sides. Turow excels in conveying the intense sense of fear and sadness when the guns are intermittently silent and they all wonder whether what they are fighting for is worth all the carnage. And then there is the final unbearable horror when they come upon the unspeakable atrocities of the Nazi death camps.

Piecing together his father’s story allows Stewart to see his father in a different light. He was a man who faced agonizing choices, who was angry at the senseless killing and the futility of war yet fought bravely and through all the ugliness and chaos was ultimately able to find love and create a family. But it was a harrowing journey and he decided to take some of its secrets to his grave.

This is a story of intense loyalties, shifting allegiances and compromised principles propelled by the confusion of war. In the final pages, Steven’s mother powerfully captures the soul, substance and true nature of the real heroes in life. It is captured in so few words that readers quickly understand the reason the book bears its title.

Turow’s novel was inspired by a combination of his father’s military experience, events in World War II and simple imaginary fiction. It is a moving story about war but also about love — the love of fighting comrades for each other, the love of an adored hero and the love of men and women. Although it is quite different from his legal thrillers, this novel is of the same quality as Turow’s other work and was an excellent and interesting read.
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1,243 reviews18 followers
May 9, 2008
I purchased this book when it was first published in 2005 but had put off reading it. Since I do like the author and have read all his books, I felt it was time.
It's been 25 yrs. since I read a book about war, but I do remember how I would get caught up in the plot and characters and by the end how emotional I would be. I loved the patriotism, sadness, romance and overall feeling a good fictional war book would be. Sure they may not be an accurate account of war but it would make me feel good about being an American and how proud I was of those that fought.
This book did none of that. It's like comparing the movie Pearl Harbor to Saving Private Ryan.
It was graphic, long [even though it was shorter than most books I read] and down and out boring. I'm sure it was more true to life about war [heck I don't start them, but if I read about them I want to think we are doing the right thing!] Some might say it was a love story, but I personally thought it was stupid [on his part] because I just didn't like her.
I'm very disappointed in Turrow and know he can do a lot better than this book.
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