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Ordinary Heroes Mass Market Paperback – October 1, 2006

145 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. When retired newspaperman Stewart Dubinsky (last seen in 1987's Presumed Innocent) discovers letters his deceased father wrote during his tour of duty in WWII, a host of family secrets come to light. In Turow's ambitious, fascinating page-turner, a "ferocious curiosity" compels the divorced Dubinsky to study his "remote, circumspect" father's papers, which include love letters written to a fiancée the family had never heard of, and a lengthy manuscript, which his father wrote in prison and which includes the shocking disclosure of his father's court-martial for assisting in the escape of OSS officer Robert Martin, a suspected spy. The manuscript, hidden from everyone but the attorney defending him, tells of Capt. David Dubin's investigation into Martin's activities and of both men's entanglements with fierce, secretive comrade Gita Lodz. From optimistic soldier to disenchanted veteran, Dubin—who, via the manuscript, becomes the book's de facto narrator—describes the years of violence he endured and of a love triangle that exacted a heavy emotional toll. Dubinsky's investigations prove revelatory at first, and life-altering at last. Turow makes the leap from courtroom to battlefield effortlessly. (Nov. 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Retired reporter Stewart Dubinsky last made an appearance in Presumed Innocent (1987). Here, the self-lacerating Dubinsky delves deep into his family’s wartime history—one loosely based on Turow’s father’s experiences. For critics, the question is whether a legal-thriller writer can succeed in another genre—and the answers vary. Out of the courtroom, Turow remains an effective storyteller whose characters (Gita in particular) and details of war create immediacy and intrigue. However, his usual spark seems to be missing. A few critics faulted the novel for introducing too much history, too many mysteries, and too many themes—from war to love to family secrets. In the end, the personal dramas that characterize Turow’s best works carry this story-within-a-story, too.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (October 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446617482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446617482
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,943,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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84 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Ronald H. Clark VINE VOICE on November 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Scott Turow has produced a masterful collection of books-- everything from "One L" about his first year at Harvard Law, to an extremely perceptive volume on the death penalty, to six very well received novels. Some credit him with the invention of the so-called "legal thriller," an art form in any regard that he has developed to a fine level. So, this novel -- which is fundamentally a novel about World War II combat -- is somewhat of a departure. While I did not find it to be vintage Turow, it is still quite a solid yarn.

This book is not a "page turner," and in fact at points it seems to drag a bit. Things do pick up toward the end, however. The story jumps back and forth between World War II and the present--but this is handled well. Turow adopts the device of the central character's father speaking through a long memorandum he had written at the end of the war to educate the lawyer defending him during a court martial. But I am not sure this approach works as well as it might. Turow's impeccable feel for the dialogue of lawyers and judges does not wholly transfer to this war story--at times, one can hardly imagine that GI's under fire or some of the foreign characters would speak with such vocabulary ("raddled") and sentence structure. Turow has done his research on the "Battle of the Bulge" and historically the novel is about as accurate as a work of fiction can be. The central Rod Serling like surprise plot device is pretty transparent midway in the book, but still brings things to a fascinating conclusion.

Be assured, I do not criticize Turow for striking out in new directions as a novelist. John Grisham has done this with success, and Turow was always a better novelist than Grisham to begin with. So what we have is a good, solid novel that is a tad below his legal fiction, but still represents a fine piece of fiction writing by one of its acknowledged masters.
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Gary Griffiths VINE VOICE on November 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is not the classic page-turner of nonstop action, cliffhangers, and suspense. But it is classic Scott Turow: intelligent, intricately plotted, and superbly crafted, adding up to an extraordinary mystery that also can't be put down.

Turow, a practicing lawyer best known for his legal drama, wraps the plot only loosely around the law as he treads new ground with this original novel of World War II. Stewart Dubinsky, a middle-aged reporter, knew is father served in Europe during WWII, but the War was a subject off-limits in the Dubinski household. Upon is father's death, Dubinski discovers that his father had been court-martialed and imprisoned, and sets out to find the decades-old answers. What follows is a tale that is anything but ordinary; a deeply emotional and painfully realistic drama of the horrors of war in the European theater.

It is early 1944, and Dubinsky's father, David Dubin, is a young lawyer assigned to the US Army's JAG Corps headquartered in Nancy, France, recently re-occupied by the Allies. He is assigned to investigate the alleged insubordination of Robert Martin, a Major in the CIA-forerunner OSS. Martin is a shadowy figure; a living legend of unparalleled heroism and bravery behind Nazi lines, but perhaps also a spy the loosely allied Soviets. Turow, ever the perfectionist, can be counted on for a richly developed cast of characters. And rarely has there been a character more interesting than the enigmatic Gita Lodz, a Polish immigrant turned French resistance commando, a gritty and war-hardened warrior with as much similarity to Laura Croft as LeCarre's George Smiley has to James Bond. She is also the inseparable companion of Martin, setting up the first two legs of the triangle that Dubin not surprisingly completes.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I'm always a little amazed when people lump together Turow and Grisham as writers of "legal thrillers." Grisham turns out superficial, heavily cinematic potboilers. Turow constructs careful, literate, precisely plotted novels of substance. But having said that, I wasn't sure what to expect with this one. It is, indeed, a "thriller," and the plotline deals with the law, but the setting is the European Theater in World War II, not the present in Kindle County (which always has felt, to me, a lot like Cook County). Captain David Dubin is a young Jewish lawyer who goes through infantry officer training in early 1944 but is then assigned to JAG in France a few months after D-Day. He and a handful of others like him spend alternating days either prosecuting or defending GIs accused of ordinary crimes, from theft to rape and murder. It's hard, rather boring work and David yearns to take a more direct part in the war. Then his commander sends him out to locate and arrest Maj. Robert Martin, a swashbuskling OSS officer who has been ignoring orders he didn't agree with. And with Martin is Gita Lodz, a strong-willed Polish gamine who takes over David's heart and soul. Martin, of course, has no intention of giving himself up to the military authorities and David's quest to carry out his orders takes him on a harrowing, appalling journey into the depths of war. He's forced by circumstances to take command of a rifle company, to send men to their deaths. His principles are challenged again and again, until he is no longer the earnest young officer who left a girl behind to fight for the American Way.

And throughout the book, Turow dares you not to care about Dubin, the tormented Sgt. Bidwell, Gen. Teedle, and especially Gita, who does what she has to do. And you'll certainly care about Robert Martin.
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