1944. Physics professor Alfred Mendl is separated from his family and sent to the men’s camp, where all of his belongings are tossed on a roaring fire. His books, his papers, his life’s work. The Nazis have no idea what they have just destroyed. And without that physical record, Alfred is one of only two people in the world with his particular knowledge. Knowledge that could start a war, or end it.
Nathan Blum works behind a desk at an intelligence office in Washington, DC, but he longs to contribute to the war effort in a more meaningful way, and he has a particular skill set the U.S. suddenly needs. Nathan is fluent in German and Polish, he is Semitic looking, and he proved his scrappiness at a young age when he escaped from the Polish ghetto. Now, the government wants him to take on the most dangerous assignment of his life: Nathan must sneak into Auschwitz, on a mission to find and escape with one man.
This historical thriller from New York Times bestseller Andrew Gross is a deeply affecting, unputdownable series of twists and turns through a landscape at times horrifyingly familiar but still completely compelling.
hubby, cook, dad, thriller writer (The Blue Zone, The Dark Tide, Don't Look Twice, and coming soon... Reckless). Love to hear from and meet my fans! Hope you enjoy the newest release RECKLESS, coming April 27, 2010.
Looking forward to sharing my bookshelf with you all, and hoping to get some new reading suggestions!
All the stars!!! Every single one! This was absolutely wonderful! "The One Man" is a novel that I will never forget! This book is part historical fiction and part thriller. The story grabbed me from the very beginning and never let go! This is very suspenseful and fast paced. At times I was holding my breath! It is a race against time!
The novel takes place during WWII. It's about a rescue mission to find and rescue one of the only scientist with the knowledge of making the atomic bomb, Professor Alfred Mendl. The man the US Government picks to do this mission is young Nathan Blum. He is an officer in the US Army. Blum had gotten out of Poland only to be brought back to Auschwitz, pretending to be a prisoner. All he has is 72 hours! Blum is sent on this dangerous mission with not much to lose. When he leaves Poland he finds out that his parents and sister are killed. Blum parachutes in with not much except a large and valuable diamond to aid in his mission.
I listened to the audio version. The narrator is Edoardo Ballerini. He's an amazing narrator. He is the narrator of one of my other favorite books of the year, "The Last Painting of Sara de Vos". The audio is very easy to follow. Ballerini is fantastic!
This would make a great movie! I would definitely pay to see this on the Big Screen!!!
Highly highly recommended to historical fiction and thriller lovers! Just a wonderful novel!!!
Wow! This book definitely deserves 5 ***** stars from me!!!!! This was an absolutely amazing Historical Thriller that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish!!
THE ONE MAN by ANDREW GROSS was an absolutely riveting, exciting, haunting, and suspenseful read with a solid plot that grabbed my attention from the very first chapter and had me on the edge of my seat in anticipation of that oh so exciting climax! I was extremely excited after reading this book that I had to share my excitement with my hubby. This book was that good as I normally don't share my thoughts with him unless the book has that WOW factor and boy did this ever. This novel was extremely hard to put down.
I absolutely love THE COVER of this book and that is one of the reasons that I chose this book to read. A man alone behind a barbed wire fence with that bold title (and my favorite colors). Looked intriguing to me! Awesome!
THE ONE MAN is a brilliant TITLE for this novel. One man on a rescue mission to break out THE ONE MAN from Auschwitz.
THE ONE MAN has us following along the story of Nathan Blum's rescue mission to save Alfred Mendl who is an electromagnetic physics professor and is imprisoned at Auschwitz, as he has the knowledge to help make the first atomic bomb believed to ensure victory in the war.
This novel was filled with compelling CHARACTERS and I really liked everything that each of them brought to this story throughout the novel. They each had their role to make this an extremely tense and thrilling read. ANDREW GROSS delivers a riveting story with a solid plot that was easy to follow along with the storyline and all the characters involved.
The ENDING was surprising, intense, exciting, emotional, and satisfying for another extremely enjoyable read. This one is definitely a favorite read of 2017!
What makes this novel even more special is that we learn from the AUTHOR'S NOTE why he wrote this book and that much of the story is based on truth but there were a few things that the author changed or added to intensify this story.
To sum it all up it was action-packed, suspenseful, and a fast-paced read with a tearjerker but satisfying ending. Most definitely recommend!!!
The One Man by Andrew Gross (Author), Edoardo Ballerini (Narrator) is a historical fiction that had me on edge the entire time. Even though the characters are fictional, the setting is all too real, and just knowing the time in our history and the location where the story takes place is enough to create a dangerous situation. But then there is the added race against time as the Allies try to get nuclear physicist, Alfred Mendel, out of Auschwitz. Mendel could be the key to getting the Manhattan Project further on the path to the Allies ending the war, before Germany ends it for them.
Young Nathan Blum, twenty two and having escaped Poland just three years ago, works a desk job translating messages for the army and is the man chosen to get Mendel out of Auschwitz. Four weeks after Blum agrees to the mission he's on the ground and has thirty six hours to get into the camp, find Mende, get him out of the camp and to the field where Mendel and Blum will be picked up by plane. This is a suicide mission, with no hope of success, but Blum can't forgive himself for allowing his father to convince him to take an important item out of Poland, leaving his parents and sister to be killed by the Germans.
The tension in this story is non stop, brutality and death a constant in this setting. So much happens in just the thirty six hours from the time that Blum arrives at the camp until it's time for the rescue plane to land (I'm not saying whether the rescue is successful), that it's going to take a while for my heart to slow down and for me to process all that I read. I must say that some of the characters gave me even more to worry about then necessary, at times, with their tendency to be overly talkative when silence seemed to be the best idea, with German soldiers ready to kill for the slightest offence. For such a very critically secret mission, Blum himself seems to me to be a font of too much information...not personal information, just saying too much that could tip the enemy hand or alert others that he is where he should not be. But that's the thing, Blum isn't a trained infiltrator or commando, he is a brave but scared man, attempting to pull off the impossible, having been chosen for his fluency in the needed languages, because he is a Polish Jew, the very type of person that is being sent to the camps. He is having to do so much in such a short time, with so little to go on, and so much at stake.
4.5 What a fantastic thriller, though it takes place in one of the most terrible and in the most horrific circumstances, ever created by man. Decided to give psychological thrillers a rest and return to police procedural and historical thrillers, and am so glad I did. I love this author, once met him at a book fair, and after reading Britany's review, (thanks, friend), knew I had to grab this one.
A rescue mission to find and bring out the one man who can shorten the time needed to complete the making of the first atomic bomb. Seventy two hours, a race against time and I can't tell you the amount of time I spent holding my breath. Suspenseful, tightly plotted, possibly the author's best book to date. Respected the quest to stay as historically accurate as to the cruelty in the camps, those in charge and other circumstances that make reading books set during this time period so difficult. Loved the humanity of the invented characters, the reasons they acted as they did and the realism of the plot line. One can imagining things happening as they did. The ending slayed me, needed tissues.
The author's note explains the reason he wrote this book, what he changed and what he moved around for stories sake. Always appreciated. An outstanding historical thriller, one of the best I have read in quite a while.
Wow! What a ride. I can't believe this is my second 5-star book so far this year. But this book deserves 5 stars. I read some reviews on this last year and added it to my massive to-read pile. I tend to gravitate to books about WWII. But it sat there.....until I saw that the audio version was narrated by Edoardo Ballerini and it was moved to the top of my list immediately.
During the war, there was a race to develop an atomic bomb. The US wants to rush and be the first, to win the war and to stop the genocide taking place. The Germans are also working to develop a bomb and have a well known scientist helping them. But let me step back. There is a scientist, Alfred Mendl, who is one of a very few men in the world who have the knowledge needed to advance the development of the bomb (another is the one helping the Germans). But while fleeing the Germans, Mendl is taken along with his family, to Auschwitz. The Germans do not listen to this man, the 'Professor', and burn all of his papers and notes, having no idea what they just destroyed. The president of the US, FDR, and the US government need Mendl for their war efforts. In steps Nathan Bloom, an intelligence officer, a Polish man who escaped Krakow and made his way to the US, and who is tasked with sneaking into Auschwitz and getting Mendl out. Sneaking into this death camp and getting out that one man that is desperately wanted.
This was a great historical thriller that kept me thinking up until the end. At times I thought I had it all figured it out and then no. I could say more about this story, the other characters, but I do not want to give anything away. It is a difficult read, to hear in detail about some of the things that took place at the hands of the Germans and in the death camps. Much of the story is based on truth but there are a few things the author added in to enhance this story. At the end of the print version, there is an authors note that describes this.
The story was amazing and the audio narration was equally amazing. Ballerini is my favorite narrator and he adds so much to this story - tension, suspense, relief, and his accents are spot on. Though, I could have him read anything to me and I would be mesmerized. The audio version does not include the authors note. I happened to see something about that so also grabbed the print version for this content (only a few pages).
A book for thriller fans, those who like to read about WWII, those who like historical fiction, or those who just want to read a great book!
PHENOMENAL!!! The anguish I felt, my heart was pumping tenfold. I haven't read anything like this in a very long time, my adrenaline was soaring through the roof!! This book completely engrossed me. RIVETING from beginning to the very end!
A fast, compelling, and compulsively readable historical thriller. This is one that had me reading into the early hours of the morning and I hated parting with these extremely well formed and mostly likable characters.
Set in 1944 Alfred Mendle is held in Auschwitz prison camp., Alfred is a brilliant professor who's knowledge is required to in the race to make the first atomic bomb. While scientists all over the world are working on different formulas and equations, there are only two men with the necessary knowledge to complete one of the most crucial steps in developing the bomb and one of them is working for the Germans and the other is Alfred Mendle. The story follows Nathan Bloom who is requested by the American Government to rescue Alfred from the camps. Nathan has already escaped from the Germans and Poland and left his family to the mercy of the Germans but feels this is a mission he needs to take in order to revenge the Germans.
The One Man is predominately a thriller. It’s certainly (in my opinion) not going to enhance your knowledge of the World War 2 if that is what you are looking for, but if like me you want a unique fast paced suspenseful read then I can highly recommend this one as it is one of the best thrillers I have read this year.
I listened to this one on audible and the narrator and the pacing was excellent.
This is certainly one for my recommended and favourites shelf.
Although this book is shelved the most as historical fiction it is quite definitely a thriller as well! I sat on the edge of my seat the whole way through and sometimes had to put the book down a while just to release some of the stress! The book is mostly set in Auschwitz during WW2 and there is plenty of historically accurate detail about the way people lived and died in the death camps. The fictional story is set into this background and comes across as almost believable, especially as the author was quite prepared to kill off any of his characters, important ones, lesser ones, goodies, baddies, it made no difference! If you enjoy a good thriller, if you like being in constant suspense, if you want to read a very good book then try this one. I am sure you will not be disappointed.
I enjoyed this, but fair warning, this is a very depressing book. At times it moves slowly, but it it is always compelling. I kept trying to figure out how this would all work out.
The characters are fully fleshed out. It was fascinating to see the role guilt played in so many of the characters’ actions.
As you would expect, this book takes a while to get the reader up to speed and lay out all the groundwork. It’s steady until Nathan gets behind enemy lines. Than it’s the whole rollercoaster ride and I found my heart rate accelerating numerous times. I couldn’t believe how Gross managed to invent one heartstopping scene after another.
The narrator does a fabulous job, especially differentiating all the different voices. His command of the different accents is spot on. I will be seeking out other books he has narrated.
Thanks to another review of the audio book, I was made aware that there is an author’s note that is not included in the audio edition. Thanks to my library, I was able to read it and get the real world background that led to this book.
Poland. 1944 Alfred Mendl and his family are brought on a crowded train to a Nazi concentration camp after being caught trying to flee Paris with forged papers. He is instantly separated from his family. He has knowledge that others will want, but they burn everything he has.
Thousands of miles away Nathan Blum routinely decodes messages from occupied Poland. He already escaped the Krakow ghetto as a teenager after the Nazis executed his family.
This book has compelling characters and I can't think of enough adjectives to describe it. Haunting, heroic, unputdownable, intense, beautiful, and heartbreaking in some areas.
It's hard for me to believe that there are people that think the holocaust never happened.
I read this book at night until my eyes couldn't stay open.
There is a beautiful dedication at the end by the author that tells about it being truths mixed with fiction to better tell the story.
This is not my last read by this author. Very well written and highly recommended
I recommend this book highly for all lovers of historical fiction thrillers!
The One Man by Andrew Gross is one of my favorite books so far this year! I love stories set in the WWII era of history and then the author added twists and turns that have you constantly on the edge of your seat. I didn’t want to put this book down. I will warn you though, the last scene set in the past had me crying buckets.
This book has many threads of plot. You are shown the race to be the first to construct an atomic bomb, the ghettoes and transport of Jews to concentration camps, the horrors of Auschwitz and a daring mission by one man to break in to Auschwitz to rescue a scientist with the knowledge to help win the race to build the bomb for the United States.
The plot keeps you reading and completely engrossed in the story. The characters, good and bad, are all well written and believable. This book will immerse you in the past and set you on a fast paced thrill ride.
Thank you very much to St. Martin’s Press-Minotaur Books and Net Galley for allowing me to read an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. It was great!
I hardly have enough strength left to write a review, after finishing this book late last night. Not only did I give up three hours of sleep to finish it, because I could not possibly rest, without knowing how it ended, but the storyline was emotionally and physically draining. This book was 400+ pages of racing against all odds.
I've always been drawn to books about the Holocaust. It started while reading "The Diary of Anne Frank," as a young girl. All the ones I've read were based on individual stories that were similarly concentrated on the atrocities that occurred. "The One Man" took an entirely different approach. The last thing I expected was a historical "thriller." It was like reading two of my favorite genres in one book.
After reading the surprising epilogue, this book gets a solid, five-star rating from me! This was my first Andrew Gross novel. It won't be my last.
(A special "thank you" to Lindsay for encouraging me to read this exceptional book.)
While I wasn’t eager to revisit Auschwitz this book sounded too good to pass up. I’m glad that I read it, it’s a very special story, based loosely on facts that moved at a quick pace.
As everyone will know by the blurb, an American intelligence officer is sent in to Auschwitz to smuggle a scientist out. The Americans are in a race with the Germans to develop the first atomic bomb. The Manhattan Project is well underway but they feel that they need the Jewish physicist, Alfred Mendl, to finish the job. They had tried unsuccessfully in the past to get him out of Poland but were unsuccessful. This is their high risk, last shot, at getting Mendl out and to the US.
Nathan Blumb is an intelligence officer but has only worked in decoding messages. He has always felt guilt at having been the only one of his family to escape the camps. He wanted to do something big, something really significant to make up for their deaths. When called upon to do this extremely dangerous mission, one which he may well never return from, he tells them he’s their man.
The US isn’t even sure if Mendl is in the camp, or even alive. They do have detailed maps of the camp from the only two men who had escaped Auschwitz and made it to the US. Based on the intelligence they have and the maps they devise a plan to get Nathan in and out, hopefully with Mendl.
The story is told from several different point of views. The character development is phenomenal and Alfred Mendl, a young chess playing genius, Leo, Nathan Blum, along with the young wife of the prison Kommandant are well developed and they became real to me.
I really enjoyed the fact that the story is told from inside the camp as well as outside. On the inside we hear Mendl’s thoughts and plans, Leo’s part in the plot and others in the camp. From the outside there is Nathan who is terrified yet determined, there are the Polish resistance leaders, the US intelligence agents, even the President who complete the story.
This is a well written, very suspenseful story, part historical fiction, part thriller. I highly recommend it. A visit to Andrew Gross’s website will explain some of the reasons why he wrote the book and also his personal family connection.
I received this ARC from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
I really enjoyed The One Man! What a great idea for a thriller! For me it was an exciting, unique and an interesting historical thriller.
The One Man is a tale of one man, Nathan Blum, who is sent on a heroic and courageous mission to rescue one man, electromagnetic physics professor Alfred Mendl from a concentration camp. Blum was only given 72 hours to find and rescue Mendl. Blum’s determination to make a difference had me rooting even more for his success as he raced against time to complete his mission.
The tension built for me as we learned about the evil and danger in the camp through the perspective of Alfred and the brilliant young man Leo who he befriended and trusted. The danger increases as the tale takes twists and turns and that had my heart pounding and I was racing to the finish to find out how it ends.
The One Man was a suspenseful, emotionally and a thrilling read for me. I highly recommend it.
During World War Two, a young Polish soldier escapes the work camps and enlists as an American soldier. When he is asked (by the President of the United States) to go back into Auschwitz to locate a “very important scientific mind”, he is given minimal details but agrees anyway. Knowing it is likely a suicide mission, Nathan Blum sneaks into the place he was so desperate to escape from, in search of a man he has never met in hopes of saving the world. This is “The One Man” by Andrew Gross. Gross is the bestselling author of nine novels (none of which I have read, to my surprise and dismay!) and this is his first foray into World War Two fiction (and what a foray it is!) Well written, clever and downright moving, “The One Man” is a powerful tale of the horrors of mistreatments and abuse that took place in Auschwitz and camps like it throughout Europe. Nathan is a young soldier looking to make a difference and seek revenge against the enemy that killed his parents in cold blood. The scientist, Albert, is old and infirm and believes he will die in the camps, and that his scientific formulas will die with him. Leo, the boy genius and chess whiz, and Leisa, Nathan’s thought-dead sister, are also creative and well-developed characters that add to an already powerful plot. This novel has a lot of superficial characters in it (various soldiers in both the German and the American camps, with a lot of unidentifiable names) however if you are able to simply accept their presence and not try to commit them all to memory, they will merely play the passing role they are expected to. “The One Man” is completely addicting, each chapter (most told from Nathan’s perspective although we do get glimpses into Leo and Albert’s lives as well) taking off from where the last one ended (in nail biting suspense of course). Not normally a genre I read, by an author I have never heard of, “The One Man” is a novel I will not soon forget. Moving, powerful, addicting and thought-provoking, its story will leave a mark. I implore the author to write more novels like this, and I guarantee I will be eager to devour them when he does.
One word... Fantastic! I enjoy going in 'blind' to novels, mainly, so that I don't have any preconceived notions to influence my expectations... I only knew it had high stars from others. Boy, oh, boy, was it good. Easily in my top 5 books of the year. Fast paced with endearing characters, I highly recommend... especially if you like WWII fiction. 5 stars.
“One Man” by Andrew Gross is a WWII thriller that is billed a bit of an historical fiction novel in that it takes place during WWII and involves the war efforts of the Manhattan Project. I listened to the audio narrated by Edoardo Ballerini and for me, he made this story a fantastic listen. His different voices and those with accented English brough authenticity and involvement to the story.
In 1944 a noted physics professor, Alfred Mendel, was held in the Auschwitz concentration camp. His particular mathematical prowess was needed for the completion of the notorious Manhattan project. In this story, a humble Polish man, Nathan Blum, who escaped the ghetto in Krakow, is enlisted by the US military to infiltrate Auschwitz and find Mendel and bust out of the camp with the aged man. Nathan, who was an intelligence officer and not familiar with combat, needed to prepare for wartime maneuvers.
The thriller part is Nathan’s journey into Poland and then into Auschwitz. Once in Auschwitz, he needed to find Mendel in 48 hours. As we all know of the chaos and cruelties inside these camps, Nathan’s journey is parlous. Gross writes with perfect thriller timing. Once Nathan scrapes through one problem he gets into another. The last 3 hours of listening is pulse racing. There were a couple of twists I didn’t see, although I figured a lot of it out; or I should say I guessed how it may play out. Nonetheless, I was captivated through the end.
A GR friend, Marilyn, directed me to this fine listen. An escape thriller inside a concentration camp is an interesting undertaking.
Poland. April,1944. Two prisoners escape from Auschwitz with detailed maps and evidence of mass liquidation of "immaterial, frightened Jews". Aided by the Polish resistance, they make their way to Washington, D.C. with this documentation.
Professor Alfred Mendl is an expert in electromagnetic physics. His expertise is essential to the war effort. Attempts to smuggle him out of Nazi held territory have failed, Sent to Auschwitz, his life's work has been burned.
Nathan Blum nicknamed "the ferret" has escaped from the Krakow ghetto where his entire family is presumed dead. He suffers from survivor's guilt. .Working as an intelligence officer for the Department of War in Washington, he is deemed the right man to infiltrate Auschwitz and emerge with only one man, Alfred Mendl. An intricate plan is set in motion. Entering Auschwitz, Blum is advised to work hard, not stand out and make no eye contact with guards to avoid selection while he tries to determine whether Mendl is still among the living. Blum has three days to find Mendl and then attempt to escape with or without him.
Andrew Gross presents a rescue mission full of harrowing twists and turns. The outcome is unexpected. An excellent read.
Thank you Net Galley for the digital copy of this book.
The One Man, by Andrew Gross, has to be one of the best WWII books I have read. It is the fictional story of Polish Jew Nathan Blum, an intelligence officer in Washington, D.C., sent by the American government to Auschwitz to break out a highly important Jewish physicist who may hold the key to speeding up the development of the atomic bomb. There was no question in giving this novel 5 stars as I was totally captivated with this complex and emotional story. This historical thriller had my heart racing through the many twists and turns of a extremely dangerous mission as well as through the horrors that occurred inside the concentration camps. This novel is unputdownable, full of suspense and gripping action with an ending that leaves you breathless. Bravo Mr. Gross!
Thank you to St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books and Net Galley for an ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest review.
This was such a very suspenseful and moving thriller that I hated it when I had to stop listening to the audiobook. There was excellent narration by Edoardo Ballerini. The book started with a rare escape from Auschwitz by two prisoners, but the drama really amped up with a crazy plot to get Nathan Bloom, a young American soldier, to infiltrate Auschwitz in order to smuggle out a Polish physicist whose research was vital to the Manhattan Project. This was a story of amazing courage and strength from Nathan, the resistance fighters who risked their lives to help him and the prisoners who found ways to survive the hell that was being inflicted upon them. The Nazis weren't easy to trick.
My only quibble with the book is that I think it would have been better without the prologue and the final chapter. The prologue sort of spoiled the outcome of the book and the final chapter was too similar to the end of "City of Thieves", and together they were too sentimental for me.
This book was my warm scone with a teapot steaming!! Pageturning goodness that I lapped up like clotted cream. A fast paced thriller surrounding... wait for it... the Holocaust/WWII (of which, I am obsessed with reading about). Ok-- just read that last part back and now I'm hungry.
This book was everything I'd hoped it would be and I could barely stand to put it down. A book that I found myself mentioning to everyone I came across, because I need people to talk about it with. The concept was genius. There's one man (pun intended! HA!) that gets selected for an impossible mission. To sneak into Auschwitz (Yes, you read that right!!) to find a professor that holds a single secret scientific piece missing to make the Atomic bomb and win the war. This one man is tasked with then escaping the death camp and rescuing this man and saving humanity. All in 72 hours! I kept reading and wanting to know if the story was true or at least based on true events. I wanted to believe that this was a real story throughout the entire book. The author addresses it at the end and perfectly summed up how it came to write this book and it broke me (in the best way).
I couldn't stop reading until I found out how it ended. I guessed (correctly) at the outcome, but there were certainly parts that I didn't see coming. The writing is in no way literary, but sometimes you just need a fast read mired in the emotional setting of Auschwitz. 4.5 Stars rounded up to 5!
Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Set in the era of World War II, Auschwitz, The One Man is a Historical Fiction cum Thriller uses a slow burn of suspense to get under your skin and reside there.
Professor Alfred Mendl, a German scientist, posses the knowledge of making bombs which is so dangerous that it can make Atlas shrug. Nathan Blum is the man who is asked to throw the caution to the wind and rescue the professor. The time is ticking. He has no options but to complete the task at hand.
The best scares are those that play with mind. And as you know, There's no escaping your own mind.
Narrated by a dying old man, The One Man does a harrowing job in making the blood run both hot and cold. It stands out of the lot. Exciting, chilling and terrifying.
I recommend it highly and I can't wait to know when it is hitting the theaters.
Now you know where you've to look when you want to stay up at night.
‘The One Man’ by Andrew Gross revolves around the race to be first to develop nuclear weapons during World War 11. Full of suspense, Gross develops a heart racing action plot that explores why a man would willingly enter Auschwitz, the German death camp in Poland. Such a horrible time in the history of humanity that’s been written about time and time again, will never cease to provide grist for the literary mill, and rightly so. In the hopes that it will never, ever happen again. In the hopes that America, the melting pot of the world, where diversity is a proud achievement in the crown of democracy, can listen, as well as other countries. Can listen and learn. Always learn
Alfred Mendl was an electromagnetic physicist and professor at the university in Lvov, Poland. He arrives at Auschwitz with his wife Marte, his daughter Lucy and a leather case filled with his formulas, and papers, his work over the last twenty years. Before long, he’s separated from his wife and daughter and his briefcase is thrown on a growing pile of bags and suitcases. In the camp, he meets a chess gaming prodigy, Leo Wolciek, 16 years old. Leo has a photographic memory and a knack for math. How a friendship grows between the older professor and this young man is worth reading the book. Filled with curiosity, energy, drive, and the motivation to survive, Leo’s chess playing skills will lead him into very unlikely places and to another very unlikely friendship.
Nathan Blum is a Jewish intelligence officer in D.C., who has previously escaped from the Krakow ghetto in Poland. Rabbi Morgenstern picked Nathan to deliver a Talmudic artifact dating back to the twelfth century for safekeeping in Stockholm. Nathan’s father, formerly a hatmaker, begged his son to leave the ghetto, deliver the artifact, and go to safety. Blum leaves his mother, father, and his younger sister, Leisa behind. Later, when a Gestapo officer is killed, Nathan’s family is rounded up and killed in retaliation. Forty Jews are killed on the streets in the Krakow ghetto that day, forty Jewish lives for one German life. Nathan feels the burden and guilt of leaving his family behind.
Peter Strauss, an OSS officer believes that Nathan Blum is ‘the one man’ for the job of retrieving Alfred Mendl from Auschwitz. Alfred Mendl is ‘the one man’ who can make the difference in the nuclear arms race. Are the lives of these two men more important than all the other lives caught up in the chaos of Auschwitz? Just think of the science, the art, and the culture that disappeared from our world because these people disappeared. How can we measure the importance of a life?
Andrew Gross gives his story political and historical credibility by peopling it with the folks of that era, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, William Donovan (head of the Office of Strategic Services), Rudolf Vrba and Alfréd Wetzler (two men who actually did escape Auschwitz in 1944), Rudolf Hoss (Auschwitz’s commandant), and many others. Alfred Mendl did not exist, so I see this book not only as historical fiction but alternate history fiction as well. Well rooted in what was happening at the time, Gross also takes leaps of creativity.
The author’s note at the end explains that Gross's father in law’s family had died during WW 11, and his father in law had gone on to enlist in the Intelligence Corps, giving us the origins of Nathan Blum. Gross shares some of his thoughts that helped shape this novel; I enjoyed this insight very much. This story brought me to tears several times, sometimes for the brutality suffered, sometimes for the beauty in the midst of the horror, and often, because the characters were so well delineated that when they suffered, so did I.
Holocaust Espionage: Exhilarating and Sophisticated 4.5
This novel is not only fiercely gripping and intelligent, it's keenly affecting with realistic characters. That is to say, it's a rare peacock that should enjoyed by the common reader as well as those seeking art in their reading.
And, it's the smartest thriller, espionage or otherwise, I've read since "I Am Pilgrim" a few years back. The author was inspired by his Polish pa-in-law to write this "Holocaust espionage novel," in which Dr. Alfred Mendl is imprisoned in the Auschwitz concentration/death camp. The Nazis are unaware that he is a renowned electromagnetic physics professor who the U.S. scientists with the Manhattan Project believe has worked out the process for separating uranium to produce "enriched uranium" needed to create a nuclear bomb that might be needed to end WW II.
The USAF has tasked Peter Blum, a Polish-American jew serving in the U.S. Armed Forces who fled the Nazis and is fluent in German and Polish, to extract Mendl from Auschwitz. The action churns in constant motion and races at supersonic speed nearing the end.
The focus of this story is a man who escaped from Poland prior to World War 2. Nathan Blum is convinced by the US government to return to his homeland to rescue a man out of Auschwitz. The objective is Alfred Mendl, a physicist whose knowledge is crucial for the Manhattan Project.
This story moves quickly while Alfred is placed into Auschwitz and as Nathan breaks into the camp. This book centers mainly on the attempt to rescue Alfred and it's a quick suspenseful read.
The premise of this book is based loosely on the author’s 95-year-old father-in-law who left Warsaw in early 1939, months before the war. He was the only one in his family to survive the war. Before reading this book, he never spoke a word about his family life in Poland.
“You’re going to sneak a desk-bound translator into a labor camp in enemy territory on one of the most vital undercover missions of the war? Are you mad?”
This is a historical-fiction novel but it is also a thriller and suspense novel. Most of the action takes place at Auschwitz with some scenes in Washington, D.C. and England. It is 1944 and the Germans are losing the war. On the one side there are the Russians. On the other the allies are preparing for an invasion. But the atrocities continue. As the story opens two men have escaped from Auschwitz and are making their way through unfamiliar territory with the Germans in pursuit. They have detailed knowledge of the mass liquidation taking place at the prison camp. With the aide of the Polish resistance they are saved and make their way to Washington, D.C. with this information.
Alfred Mendl is a physics professor. But he is not just another physics professor. He has knowledge that could assist in the project to build a super weapon. A super bomb. The Manhattan Project. When he, his wife, and his daughter are caught trying to flee Paris with forged papers they sent to Auschwitz. When they arrive he watches in horror as his wife and daughter are separated from him and all of his possessions, including his books and papers, are tossed into a fire and burned. The Nazis do not know who he is. To them he is just another Jew.
In Washington D.C. Nathan Blum is an analyst with the OSS decoding messages from occupied Poland. He escaped from Krakow where the rest of his family was killed by the Germans. He longs to do more to contribute to the war effort. Something more substantial than sitting at a desk decoding messages. He is about to get an opportunity. "Wild Bill" Donovan and the OSS have a plan. They want to smuggle him into Auschwitz where he is to locate Mendl and bring him out and to the United States. Blum is the perfect candidate. He is Polish, speaks the language like a native, and looks the part. Well they may have to starve him a little bit first.
The story takes you inside one of the most horrific places in history. You feel as though you are actually there, get to know some of the prisoners / victims, experience what daily life was like. Short as it may be been. You get to meet figures from history such as FDR and "Wild Bill" Donovan. The story is historical-fiction but it is so well written you may think it was based on historical-fact. There are parts that may be difficult for some to read. This is set, for the most part, in Auschwitz and details the barbarism and atrocities committed by the Nazis during World War II but it is a fascinating story.
Bumping this one - because it's amazing...and deserves to be included in the Goodreads awards :) Also, because I just ordered a hard copy of it today for my Dad for his birthday - not waiting until Christmas - just too good.... Here's my original review below:
I talked to my husband about this book almost chapter by chapter. The book ended up on two lists - on my Christmas gift idea list to purchase for a few family members, and on my favourite books of 2016 list - While 2016 is only half way through, I assure you, this book will remain on my top ten.
This is Historical Fiction at it's Best ! This is the type of book that I will think of for years to come and recommend to all I meet, male, female, teenage to older adult. Fast paced and exciting, this one had me on the edge of my seat....I lost sleep over this one, not being able to put it down...tragic, gut wrenching emotion, nail biting suspense with turns I was not at all expecting, and great characters. I fell in love with Leo, the young chess player, and the relationship that developed between Leo and Alfred among the horrific confines of Auschwitz. I held my breath in places that Nathan got himself into and felt the weight of all that relied on his success in his mission.
The Holocaust is something I've studied in every history class I can remember taking - my daughters have learned about it and talked about it at home - we've read The Diary of Anne Frank - and yet Andrew Gross still managed to school me a little further - it is apparent that he put a great deal of effort into the research of this novel and I was ever so grateful for his acknowledgements in the back of the book that discussed those parts that was based in reality and those in fiction.
Solid 5+ stars - more if I could. Thank you so so much to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press and Andrew Gross for the opportunity to read this amazing novel in return for an honest review. Mr. Gross, I will be looking forward to reading more of your books !
Editing to bump because it was recently published and a book I think most will love! Enjoy!