From Publishers Weekly
The first German sabotage mission to reach the shores of the U.S. during WWII is the subject of Washington Post correspondent Dobbs's follow-up to Madeleine Albright: A Twentieth Century Odyssey and Down with Big Brother: The Fall of the Soviet Empire. The early background chapters concerning the recruitment and training of the German agents can be slow going, but once the story reaches the open seas, the landing of the agents on the shores of Long Island and Florida, and their movements within the U.S., it will captivate readers for the remainder of the book. The detailed account of the summer 1942 landing of the eight German saboteurs, all with prewar experience in the U.S., is engrossing, as is their stalking by the FBI with the help of several other government agencies (livened up with extensive reconstructed dialogue that leans on declassified material). The personalities and careers of the eight are revealed in some detail, including those of two American citizens, as is the fate of the two surviving members. The interagency jealousies that plagued the case throughout the pursuit and trial of the agents add an additional dimension to what would otherwise be a simple spy story. After one of their number, American George J. Dasch, finally gets cold feet and turns the group in, the account of the military trial and the parts played by the Justice Department, President Roosevelt and the Supreme Court become as fascinating as the main story. The legal aspects of the case, clearly and simply explained, are echoed today, since the saboteurs' trial by a military tribunal, rather than a civil court, is a precedent for the impending trial of accused terrorists held at the prison in Guantanamo, Cuba. Easy going and compelling, this title should find favor beyond the WWII niche.
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*Starred Review* Dobbs' full-scale account of the eight German saboteurs landed on the U.S. East Coast in the summer of 1942 is likely to be definitive on the subject for some time. Dobbs has researched the FBI archives comprehensively, and he writes surpassingly well, producing a story that would almost be humorous if the stakes hadn't been so high and six of the eight men hadn't eventually been executed. The selection and training of candidates for the mission were both haphazard, and one of the U-boats used was nearly fatally stranded on the American coast. Then the leader of one team, George Dasch, decided to turn coat, which helped the FBI overcome J. Edgar Hoover's pit-bull fondness for turf fights with other government agencies. Eventually all eight were rounded up and tried, and all but Dasch and another turncoat died in the electric chair. Dobbs probes in considerable detail the legal ramifications of trial, sentence, and execution, in each of which precedents relevant to post-9/11 dealings with terrorists were set--and even dealing with these legalities, he is clear and well balanced. Altogether, this is a very fine piece of work. Roland GreenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved