From Publishers Weekly
Millman (The Odds
; Pickup Artists
), best known for his sports writing, tackles a fascinating but little-known episode in World War I history: the extensive plot by a network of German spies to wreak havoc in the U.S. Their one big success, he observes, was the massive explosion that blew up a spit of land in New York Harbor next to Liberty Island known as Black Tom, including an ammunition depot, and caused extensive damage throughout Manhattan and Jersey City, with reverberations felt as far south as Philadelphia. Millman has delved into the story deeply and with verve, basing much of this fast-paced, thrillerlike tale on affidavits, briefs, memos and letters from those involved in the plot and the long postwar effort to get to the bottom of it. Although the American government had plenty of clues about who was responsible, nothing of substance was done to solve the mystery until the early 1930s when three American lawyers"John McCloy, Amos Peaslee and Harold Martin"set out in earnest to investigate it. Millman's emphasis on the personal stories of the main characters involved in hatching the Black Tom plot and those who solved it makes for gripping reading. 8 b&w photos. (July 12)
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In the first two years of World War I, a German government annoyed by American shipments of ammunition to the Allies decided to do something about it. Not content with diplomatically protesting the incompatibility of America's arms sales with its neutral status, the Germans unwisely decided on sabotage. Black Tom Island in New York Harbor exploded on July 30, 1916, killing several and shattering the windows of lower Manhattan. Initially German involvement remained concealed, but after the war, litigation coaxed out the truth. Leading off with the organization of the sabotage campaign, Millman backfills his narrative with revelations brought forth by years of legal proceedings before a German-American commission. From a storytelling perspective, Millman commendably rises above a dry recitation of briefs and rulings, his chief agent being future cold-war figure John J. McCloy, who questioned many implicated in the case. With its obvious contemporary resonance, Millman's able account of an earlier foreign attack on America should draw the espionage audience and more. Gilbert TaylorCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved