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The Envoy: The Epic Rescue of the Last Jews of Europe in the Desperate Closing Months of World War II Paperback – November 1, 2011


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The Envoy: The Epic Rescue of the Last Jews of Europe in the Desperate Closing Months of World War II + The Bedford Boys: One American Town's Ultimate D-day Sacrifice + The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306820439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306820434
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,747,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Until 1944, the Jews of Hungary had been left relatively unscathed by the surrounding slaughter, despite the anti-Semitic leanings of both the Hungarian government and large segments of the population. But as Nazi military disasters mounted, there was a rush to complete the “Final Solution.” Nazi officials placed immense pressure upon the Hungarian government, and the roundup and attempted extermination of Hungarian Jews commenced. The effort to locate, detain, and transport the Jews to the death camps was driven, with his typical ruthless efficiency, by Adolf Eichmann. By July 1944, an estimated half-million Hungarian Jews had been deported. The effort to save the remnants is largely the story of the remarkable Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. Kershaw recounts those efforts in a tense, fast-moving narrative that shows Wallenberg as a match for Eichmann in intelligence and determination as he utilized fake documents, safe houses, and a variety of other methods to save thousands of Jewish lives. This is an inspiring story that illustrates how one dedicated human can make an impact, even against a monstrous tyranny. --Jay Freeman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Booklist, July 2010
“From a best-selling and vibrant writer, the compelling story of how a Swedish diplomat saved 100,000 Hungarian Jews from deportation to the death camps. Many books have been called major contributions to Holocaust literature, but in this case, the claim is true.”

Kirkus Reviews, 9/1/10
“The life of a courageous, righteous man well told.”
 
Booklist, 10/1/10
“A tense, fast-moving narrative that shows Wallenberg as a match for Eichmann in intelligence and determination as he utilized fake documents, safe houses, and a variety of other methods to save thousands of Jewish lives. This is an inspiring story that illustrates how one dedicated human can make an impact, even against a monstrous tyranny.”
 
WWII Magazine
“The entwined tales of Raoul Wallenberg and Adolf Eichmann, revisited with new research and this best-selling writer’s narrative flair.”
 
New York Journal of Books, 10/29/10 
“Kershaw dramatically pulls the reader into the diabolical campaign of Adolf Eichmann…With the nail-biting suspense of a winning novelist, Kershaw uses solid research and anecdotal data to show how it felt to be just one step ahead of the SS … Alex Kershaw has delivered a masterpiece about Raul Wallenberg, as witnessed from every perspective.”
 
WomenAroundTown.com, 11/11/10
“[Y]ou must read everything you can find by Alex Kershaw.”

Library Journal
, 11/11/10
“An interesting conjunction of two World War II figures, one heroic and one evil, this will most interest general readers just starting to study the Holocaust, although some of Kershaw's details will also interest specialists.”\
 
Boston Sunday Globe, 11/14/10
“A historical account as vivid and suspenseful as any thriller.”
 
The National, 11/2/10
The Envoy is framed as a suspense narrative in which the outcome is already foretold—a mystery whose hero is also its victim. This is a perilous tack to take with the story of a secular saint like Wallenberg, but one that proves successful for Kershaw, who is more storyteller than philosopher.”
 
Daily Herald, 12/5/10
“Kershaw’s wisely understated prose allows these horrific events to speak powerfully for themselves. One leaves the narrative with equal parts regard for Wallenberg’s honor, determination and sacrifice, and sorrow at his demise.”
 
Examiner.com, 12/4/10
‘“Best-selling author Kershaw dramatically pulls the reader into the diabolical campaign of Adolf Eichmann to send more than 250,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz. With the nail-biting suspense of a winning novelist, Kershaw uses solid research and anecdotal data to show how it felt to be just one step ahead of the SS and their cruel Hungarian proxies, the Arrow Cross…The Envoy is a brilliant examination of the rescue of Hungarian Jews near the end of the Holocaust, led by the brave Swiss diplomat, Raul Wallenberg.  Kershaw gives the reader a fiery collection of facts as explained in detail by survivors and records, woven into a thrilling and detailed account of Wallenberg’s courageous efforts to save thousands Jewish families from certain death…Kershaw’s brilliant effort is one that should be read by everyone who values freedom, tolerance and liberty…Alex Kershaw has delivered a masterpiece about Raul Wallenberg, as witnessed from every perspective. “
 
Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 1/2/11
“A riveting account of Wallenberg’s efforts. Kershaw pits Wallenberg’s tenacity against the blood lust of his archnemesis, Hilter’s angel of death, Adolf Eichmann…Kershaw also profiles the lives of several Jews who were swept up in war and struggled to survive. He skillfully weaves their stories, gleaned from interviews…and puts a human face on its terrible drama…Extensive footnotes reflect the depth of Kershaw’s research and skillful use of quotes from the principal actors involved in this unforgettable story.”
 
Providence Journal, 1/23/11
“A harrowing book.”
 
Shepherd Express, 1/24/11
“What Alex Kershaw adds to the conversation are his own interviews with some of the people Wallenberg saved.”

Jewish Book World
Much like an adventure story, at times impossible to put down….The Envoy is well-written, thoroughly researched, and an engaging book to read.”

Buffalo Jewish Review, 7/8/11
“The story is set forth here with considerable authenticity in a style that grips the reader’s attention and that vividly reminds us of a hero who deserves continuing universal recognition.”

Columbus Daily Reporter, 7/5/11
“Describes in well-written detail how Wallenberg and a group of people he recruited stood up to the Germans, issuing false Swedish papers to Jews whom Eichmann had planned to eliminate.”

 

The Jewish Advocate, July 2011
“[A] lively account of Wallenberg’s life.”

 


More About the Author

Alex Kershaw is the New York Times best-selling author of several popular WW11 titles. He is a British born journalist.

Please visit alexkershaw.com for his full bio and some great web-sites devoted to his books. He would be happy to answer any questions and sign books and help in any other way.

You can also catch up with him and his work at his facebook page - alex kershaw, author's page.

He blogs at www.alexkershawauthor.com and provides video/images/posts on facebook.



THE LIBERATOR Q&A

What inspired you to write the book?

I was researching a story about men who liberated the camps in WW11. I came across an extraordinary photograph which showed a young American officer, Felix Sparks, firing his pistol into the air on 29 April 1945. He is in a coal-yard at Dachau, which he has just liberated, and some of his men have opened fire on SS soldiers. He is firing his pistol and shouting to make them stop. The image captures an amazing moment of incredible humanity when one considers that Sparks had by then spent over 500 days in brutalizing combat, losing an entire company at Anzio and a battalion to the SS, since landing on the first day of the invasion of Europe. Most people would not have stopped the killing of such evil men, just minutes after discovering the full horrors of Hitler's first concentration camp. I had to meet this man and in 2007 I interviewed him, literally on his death-bed. No other American fought for longer or suffered more to free more people from the greatest evil of modern times.


- What surprised you the most during the writing process?

I was often astonished by the sheer violence and trauma endured by the so-called Greatest Generation. Over 150,000 mostly working-class Americans died to liberate Europe. Hundreds of thousands came home and never talked about it. Why would you want to recount what felt like being in a terrible car crash each day? I interviewed many men who served with and under Sparks and because they opened up to me I was struck over and over by how great their suffering had been. None came home unbroken. They all paid a huge price if they were in combat.

- What would you be doing if you weren't a writer?

I'd be a retired banker, sipping cocktails in St. Lucia, lazily scanning the Wall Street Journal to see how my investments, taxed at almost nothing, are doing. Sadly, l decided to try to do something a little more interesting....

- What else are you reading right now?

I am utterly absorbed in the Civil War and Revolutionary War America - my son is studying these periods at middle school. It's hugely colorful history. Even as an expat "limey" who has lived here for twenty years I'm astonished by how radical the idea was that all men should be equal before the law, not subjects of a king. As concerns the Civil War, Michael Shara's The Killer Angels is amazing. The Civil War has not ended of course - just look at the red and blue states.

Customer Reviews

Alex Kershaw does a great job of showing the heroic aspects of Wallenberg's accomplishments.
R. C Sheehy
The book is enhanced by an extensive bibliography, black and white photographs, informative endnotes, and a thorough index.
E. Bukowsky
Great story and shows how much difference one person in the right place at the right time can make.
Grey Wolffe

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Alex Kershaw's "The Envoy" is a well-researched account of the fate of Hungary's Jewish population during the final years of World War II. It is also a tribute to Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who risked his life repeatedly to save as many Jews as possible. In January, 1942, fifteen Nazi party officials attended a conference at Wannsee, on the outskirts of Berlin. One of the attendees was Adolf Eichmann, "the head of the Gestapo's Section IVB for Jewish Afairs." After a discussion that lasted an hour and a half, the group decided that Eichmann "would be the chief administrator of 'the greatest genocide in history.'"

Before Hungary's Jews became a target for annihilation, many terrified refugees fled there from occupied countries such as Czechoslovakia. At one time, Hungary was "a promised land for Jews on the run; the only place where you could be a Jew and stay alive." Three hundred thousand Jewish refugees from Nazi-controlled Europe sought sanctuary in Hungary, but they would eventually realize, to their horror, that they had unwittingly jumped from the frying pan into the fire. In 1944, with the cooperation of the Hungarian government, the Germans decided to launch an initiative to remove "the country's million-odd Jews, the last significant population in Europe." "It will be a deportation surpassing every preceding operation in magnitude," Eichmann crowed.

The author focuses on several families and individuals who struggled to stay alive. He follows their efforts to escape deportation as the noose gradually tightens. Some fled to forests. In other cases, righteous gentiles protected their Jewish neighbors by hiding them in attics, cellars, and crawl spaces.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Charles S. Weinblatt on November 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The Envoy is Alex Kershaw's testimonial to Raul Wallenberg and his campaign to save the Jews of Hungary from extermination by Nazi Germany in 1944. Best-selling author Kershaw dramatically pulls the reader into the diabolical campaign of Adolf Eichmann to send more than 250,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz. With the nail-biting suspense of a winning novelist, Kershaw uses solid research and anecdotal data to show how it felt to be just one step ahead of the SS and their cruel Hungarian proxies, the Arrow Cross.

Based upon the latest information from survivors, international archives, personal interviews and multiple records, The Envoy is a brilliant examination of the rescue of Hungarian Jews near the end of the Holocaust, led by the brave Swiss diplomat, Raul Wallenberg. Kershaw gives the reader a fiery collection of facts as explained in detail by survivors and records, woven into a thrilling and detailed account of Wallenberg's courageous efforts to save thousands Jewish families from certain death.

Kershaw's meticulous research opens a comprehensive analysis of Adolph Eichmann and his desperate need to fulfill Hitler's command to make Europe Judenrien. We learn that the chain-smoking Nazi leader was compelled to do anything that would endear himself to The Fuehrer. In this case, it was the destruction of the Jews of Hungary. Kershaw describes how Eichmann poured himself into the task with gusto.

By 1944, most of the Jews of Europe had already been shot and buried or gassed to death in a Nazi death camp. Only the Jewish families of Hungary remained alive. Eichmann's job was to send them as quickly as possible to Auschwitz, for Special Treatment.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By lit-in-the-last-frontier on June 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
As the Third Reich trembled and collapsed, Adolf Eichmann vowed to finish carrying out the Nazi's horrific Final Solution-to cleanse Hungary of her remaining Jewish population. Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat posted to Budapest, would become famous for his exhaustive efforts to save these, the last Jews, not only of Hungary, but of Europe. In this work of non-fiction, Alex Kershaw recounts the story of several people who worked to subvert Eichmann's plans, but his focus is principally on Wallenberg, the man who acted more selflessly and saved more lives than any other.

Because I have long been passionate about the story of Raoul Wallenberg, I think that I might have expected more than this book could realistically deliver. Kershaw's research can certainly not be faulted. The reader is given plenty of details to become a fervent admirer of Mr. Wallenberg, and like every good historian, Kershaw employs a vast cast of first person accounts and other primary source materials. But for me the deluge of facts washes away the humanity of the story. Adolf Eichmann told Raoul Wallenberg that one hundred deaths are a catastrophe, but one thousand deaths are a statistic. So many events are skated over so quickly that its effect becomes desensitizing; I needed Kershaw to go deeper, to draw me into the grievous depths of a few stories. This story cries out for narrative non-fiction full of soul-felt catastrophe but delivers statistics.

This book was not on my reading list; I picked up the audio version because one of my favorite narrators, George Guidall, did the reading. While not my favorite of Guidall's works, I think his gentle, fluid delivery did much to salvage the bald prose.
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