Corinne's Reviews > Night of Flames

Night of Flames by Douglas W. Jacobson
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In Night of Flames, our two main protagonists are Jan and Anna - two Polish citizens in Poland at the beginning of the war. However, before we even meet them, this husband and wife are separated as Jan's career with the Polish military sends him to defend his nation from the invading German army and Anna is left in a country on the brink of catastrophe.

Because I don't want to spoil the story, I won't give too many details - but one important piece, which made the book incredibly interesting, is the fact that both of these main characters stumble into the resistance - in two different countries. Anna finds herself in occupied Belgium while Jan's experience with the Polish Cavalry is traumatic, to say the least, and leads him in a completely different direction.

And thus we switch back and forth between the two of them throughout the book as the war progresses and as each of them get deeper and more involved with the resistance. I appreciated seeing regular people choose to fight the Germans in any way they could, sacrificing just about everything they had, instead of sitting by and watching their country be torn apart. Certain scenes are very intense and the language of most of the soldiers was a bit much for me and almost felt inauthentic since the soldiers were nearly always speaking a language other than English. I recognize, however, that I have no idea of what it is like to be a soldier.

Different than most books I have read about the war, this novel certainly involves much more military history and strategy than I am used to reading. We, as readers, become active participants in the missions of the resistance and I grew to have so much respect for these citizen soldiers and the difference they made preparing the way for the Allies. I think the author did a fine job of making the more strategic sections readable for someone like me with essentially no military background. And while the characters aren't maybe as well developed as they could be, I didn't feel like it too detracted too much and the plot and history felt very well researched.

I recently learned that my Grandfather spent the bulk of his time in the war in Antwerp, Belgium (he was there for two years) and I was happy to find a book that gave me immense insight into the war years there. In fact, after reading, I called him (on his 93rd birthday, no less) and we had a long conversation about the book and I'll be sending my copy off to him shortly, as he'd like to read it.

While this is certainly a "war" book, at the heart of this novel is the decision of whether or not to follow in the footsteps of Anna, Jan, my grandpa and countless others, and put your life at stake for a greater cause than your own.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 15, 2009 – Shelved
January 15, 2009 – Shelved as: war-through-the-generations-challen
January 15, 2009 – Finished Reading
May 26, 2009 – Shelved as: advance-reader-s-copy
January 31, 2016 – Shelved as: 2009
January 31, 2016 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
January 31, 2016 – Shelved as: war
January 31, 2016 – Shelved as: world-war-ii
January 31, 2016 – Shelved as: poland
January 31, 2016 – Shelved as: belgium

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