Sarah's Reviews > My Father's Secret War: A Memoir

My Father's Secret War by Lucinda Franks
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's review
Mar 04, 2009

did not like it
bookshelves: non-fiction, women-authors, 2009-reads
Recommended for: Egotists
Read in July, 2009

** spoiler alert ** The book's premise sounded promising - getting to know your elderly father's secretive past was very compelling. I guess I should praise her honesty for showing herself warts and all but I detested the author.

I particularly hated her disregard for anything that could bring her father happiness and her constant mean bitterness about her childhood. She is successful and rich (a house in upstate new york, a house on the cape and a house in NYC) with a rich and powerful husband and her father is living in a small rental that he can't keep up with the bills. "We have three households to maintain," she says to his friend who comes to her about her father's financial difficulties. THREE HOUSEHOLDS! What a burden!

Her father's onset of dementia (and I wonder if it was dementia or just the inevitable onset of age) and his fight with cancer was completely ignored by the author as she nurses her grudges about his behaviour as he struggles with being in a marriage with a difficult and immature woman who doesn't support him after he returns from war. Despite having witnessed horrific things in World War II and being called upon to commit acts that he found morally repugnant, the author, like his wife, judges him and condemns him and brings everything back to her eleven year self.

One particularly horrific passage sticks in my mind. Her father finally confesses that he was forced to assasinate a man he respected because the man was selling secrets that the US government wanted to the Soviet Union and the author goes off on him about how it didn't matter anyway. Her smug "intellectual" take on the fact that it didn't matter because the Soviets got the info they needed anyway as her father confesses his deepest and darkest secret made me want to smack her. Her father wasn't blessed with the ability to gain this insight based on her research almost 50 years after the fact, he was ordered to do something and had to believe it had a purpose or else he would find himself as guilty as the Nazis he condemned. Did she never wonder why he hated the Communists so much?

"Sharper than a serpent's tooth is an ungrateful child". I hope to God that I show more compassion and understanding of my parents and their human foibles than Lucinda Franks showed to her poor father, Thomas Franks.
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07/18/2009 page 200

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