US Review of Books: Finding Gessler

US Review of Books: Finding Gessler

Congratulations to Finding Gessler written by Barbara Celeste McCloskey for receiving a RECOMMENDED rating from the US Review of Books.

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Read the entire review below:


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“Edward knew he and Johnny were playing a high-stakes game of espionage roulette, and if their cover stories would be blown, their usefulness would end and quite possibly their lives as well.”

Adventure, fear, romance, love, tragedy, sorrow, and hope they all unfold amid the pages of this sweeping saga of individuals buffeted by the winds of war. This is a tale of decisions that can’t be unmade, consequences visited upon multiple generations, and the relentless search to come full circle with what’s most important in life.

First and foremost, this is Edward’s story. He’s an intelligent young man from a good family growing to manhood in Germany prior to the start of World War II. As the shadow of Nazism spreads across the land, Edward keeps his distance from politics and the Third Reich’s abominable prejudices and policies. Soon, however, a lapse in propriety and a twist of fate combine to change his life forever. He impregnates Dora, a young Polish girl who is also Jewish. Refusing to abandon her, or to have the pregnancy terminated, Edward marries her. His father is outraged. He literally banishes and disowns his son. Leaving Germany for Poland, Dora’s parents are no less understanding of their daughter’s actions, so the two are left to make a life for themselves without the aid and comfort of family ties. But the couple manages to both survive and prosper, and two more children are added to their union. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes when Edward is abroad in Paris on business, and the Nazis invade Poland. It becomes virtually impossible for Edward to get back to his family or even to get word of them. The blitzkrieg and downfall of Warsaw create a chasm that cannot be spanned.

Desperate to strike a blow against the forces that have ripped him from his family, Edward joins his good friend, Johnny, and becomes not just a spy against his German homeland but literally a double agent. The Nazis think he’s working for them, but he’s actually engaged against everything they stand for and begins a cat and mouse intelligence game that finds him involved in espionage from London to Lisbon and eventually to America, where he discovers that working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation can be just as maddening as working against the Gestapo and their degenerate goons.

Author McCloskey is not content to confine her chronicle simply to the war years. It would be a spoiler to talk about who survives and who doesn’t, but suffice it to say that her narrative reaches far beyond the timeframe of the war itself and the borders of Europe and the United States. The world she recreates on the pages of her opus runs the gamut from glittering continental capitals to windswept Midwestern homelands to semi-barren deserts in the Middle East. Her characters, as well, cover a broad spectrum of human emotion and behavior. There are uncompromising caretakers, intrepid operatives, idealists, scoundrels, martinets, malcontents, and more. Her prose brings to mind memorable visuals of the 1930s and 1940s the kind of cinematic imagery that re-imagined the war years in classics like Bogart and Bergman’s Casablanca and contemporary films such as Pitt and Cotillard’s Allied. McCloskey’s book is both an entertainment and a worthwhile reminder that what Tom Brokaw dubbed the “Greatest Generation” wasn’t only made up of Americans but also included individuals from countries near and far who met the challenge of worldwide tyranny and overcame it.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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