Outstanding Achievement recognition for a 2007 publication by the Wisconsin Library Association Literary Awards Committee
"Suspenseful, rich in convincingly detailed incidents, and impeccably researched." Library Journal
"A vast, flowing, unstoppable tale of World War II . . . It is historical fiction at its best." Homer Hickam, author, Rocket Boys
"Well researched and skillfully executed . . . a highly readable work which is both informative and imaginative." The Historical Novels Review
"A taut and twisting thriller with memorable flesh and blood characters . . . Jacobson's clockwork plot draws the reader onto its roller coaster ride [and] clicks along at breakneck speed." James Conroyd Martin, award-winning author, Push Not the River and Against a Crimson Sky
About the Author
Douglas W. Jacobson is an engineer and business owner. He lives in Elm Grove, Wisconsin.
Douglas W. Jacobson is an engineer, business owner and World War Two history enthusiast. Doug has travelled extensively in Europe researching the courage of common people caught up in the most catastrophic event of the twentieth century. His debut novel, NIGHT OF FLAMES: A Novel of World War Two was published in 2007 and released in paperback and Kindle in 2008. NIGHT OF FLAMES won the "2007 Outstanding Achievement Award" from the Wisconsin Library Association. Doug's second book, THE KATYN ORDER was published in 2011 and is now available in paperback and Kindle. THE KATYN ORDER, which won a 2011 award from the Wisconsin Writer's Association, is an historical thriller centered around one of history's most notorious war crimes. Doug has also published numerous articles on underground resistance actions in Europe and is currently working on his third historical novel set in Europe during World War Two. Doug and his wife Janie live in Elm Grove, Wisconsin.
I was gripped by this tale from the first page! It is beautifully written and impeccably researched, weaving a heart-stopping and sensitive tale of the experiences and heroics of common people during WWII. The focus on Poland and Belgium lends this WWII story a unique flavor, and the strong main characters take you right along with them across war-torn Europe and into the depths of the tenatious resistance movements. Fascinating story, talented story-telling. Can't wait for the sequel! Highly recommended - not only for historic fiction enthusiasts, but anyone who wants a good read!
I love good historical fiction, and while this has many redeeming feature, it also has a fatal flaw. The author tries to cover too much territory in way too few pages. The book covers all of WW II in 379 pages. Never going to happen. The book is at its best when in focuses on a single event - for example the beginning which deals with the Nazi invasion of Poland and the cities of Warsaw and Kracow. Or the end, which focuses on the battle for Antwerp (well, hardly a battle in the end). Here, Douglas Jacobson gives both color, detail, and strong narrative to the events. Unfortunately, between these two bookends, the characters are thrown all over Europe, over a period of five years, and the book rather meanders without any good purpose. The ending is also contrived. It is a first novel, and a good start. Perhaps next time Jackson wil focus more, deal with a small number of characters around a single defining event, and become less difuse and less scattered. Easy, enjoyable read nonetheless.
I did enjoy this book overall, as I am a WW II fan and love books relating to that era. I especially liked that the focus was on the Polish and Belgian resistance, two movements which have gotten little attention in movies and literature.
However, while I started out with five stars for this book, it has dwindled to 3 by the time I reached the end. This could have been a fantastic book but unfortunately, the author fell victim to trying to squeeze in too much and to using absurd coincidences and contrivances to wrap up the story.
1) As others have said, there are too many characters and too many small subplots. I could not keep track of the characters, and after a while, the names began to blur. All too frequently, a character would be introduced and then disappear, for no apparent reason.
2) It would have been preferable to focus on either the Belgian or Polish underground, or at least, just one or two activities that were going on. The book skipped from Poland to Belgium to England to France, with an unending array of activities, meetings, and characters. It became repetitive after a while, and towards the end of the book, there were so many "co-stories" going on, I just began to skip pages and then entire sections. The espionage became tedious because it seemed like the same thing was just being retold over and over again, only with an onslaught of yet new names added to the roster.
3) As others have said, a major problem in this book were the main characters Jan and Anna. Both were about as interesting as a slice of Wonder Bread, and not particularly likeable. Jan was completely void of emotion, and for an ordinary cavalry officer, he certainly appeared to have super powers. The man was indestructible.Read more ›
Night of Flames, by Douglas W. Jacobson, is a novel about World War II, and more specifically, about the Belgian resistance movement known as the White Brigade. The story is told primarily through the eyes of Jan and Anna Kopernik, a young Polish couple who is separated thoughout much of the war but each plays an important role in the resistance effort.
The book opens in Warsaw, Poland in September, 1939, with Germany carrying out mass air raids on the city. Anna, a thirty-something university associate professor, is visiting Warsaw from Krakow with her Jewish friend Irene and Irene's 10 year-old son Justyn. When Warsaw is bombed, the travelers flee home to Krakow only to find it has suffered the same fate. With the help of an Italian diplomat, Anna, Irene and Justyn obtain travel visas out of Poland.
Meanwhile, Anna's husband Jan is an officer in the Polish army. In the beginning of the book, the army suffers crushing defeat at the hands of the Germans. Many of Jan's comrades are killed, including his best friend, who is also Irene's husband and Justyn's father. When Poland surrenders to Germany, Jan escapes to Britain, where he is recruited to work in the resistance movement.
The book then skips ahead to 1943, and the author introduces several members of the Belgian resistance. They are ordinary people - husbands, wives, and sons united in a common desire to reclaim their country from conquering Germany. Some are country peasants and merchants, others are urbane intellectuals. Anna, now living with Justyn in rural Belgiam, serves the movement by helping fallen Allied aviators out of occupied Belgium. Jan moves about Europe, doing espionage for the White Brigade.Read more ›