Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Comrades, Avenge Us Paperback – September 1, 1995
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
thought- provoking. I cannot figure out why a major publisher like Random House or Dell has not jumped at the chance to offer him a contract. His book compares favorably with historical novels by Hans Hellmut Kirst, a German veteran of the Second World War who made a career of writing stories about the German Army and the Nazis, in part derived from personal experience. In fact, >>Comrades<< is better than several of Kirst's later books, like >>Brothers in Arms<< and >>Nights of the Long Knives.<<
The story of a failed Office of Strategic Services mission to Yugoslavia and a twenty-year search for justice, >>Comrades<< is a memorial to Anglo-American prisoners of war who were imprisoned in Adolf Hitler's concentration camps. Mauthausen, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen, and Auschwitz each held small numbers of "ex-prisoners of war," often in retaliation for escape attempts. In league with former Yugoslav and Italian resisters, Majors John Bowles and William Macnaughton hunt for German and Croatian war criminals who inflicted unspeakable tortures upon themselves and murdered their OSS Team (URBAN).
The author's personal experience give certain episodes in the novel a gritty realism. Born in Berlin, Esrati emigrated to Palestine with his immediate family right after Hitler's appointment as Reich Chancellor in 1933. From Palestine, his family emigrated to the United States in 1937, and Esrati served in the US Army just after the war. A one-time member of the Revisionist-Zionist organization, Irgun, which fought for Israeli independence, and a veteran of US Special Forces, his experience with clandestine activities and the idiosyncracies of the US Army during the Eisenhower Era make the story come alive. Since the publication of >>Comrades,<< Esrati has published a second novel which draws upon his personal experiences, >>The Tenth Prayer: A Novel of Israel<< (2000).
An excellent first offering, >>Comrades<< nevertheless contains several flaws. In Major John Bowles, the author succumbed to the temptation to create a larger-than-life protagonist, as is often the case in espionage novels. At times, it is difficult to imagine Bowles, a polymath whose experiences would fill three lifetimes: a dancer in the Andy Hardy movies, a runner in the Boston Marathon, and a member of the Special Forces, all the while leading the life of a Nazi hunter.
Another flaw concerns the fictional representation of Nazi atrocities. If >>Comrades<< commemorates Anglo-American victims of Nazi concentration camps, why then focus upon the OSS, whose members engaged in espionage and sabotage, and therefore had little reason to expect even the (albeit inadequate) protection granted to POWs under the Geneva Convention of 1929? Historical novels often focus upon the exceptional, and Esrati should be given some leeway for artistic license in this case. But OSS captives rarely survived the war; the Germans usually executed them as spies and saboteurs. An important exception was US Navy Commander Jack Taylor, who led a failed OSS mission in Northern Italy and was confined to Mauthausen until US liberation.
Esrati should be commended for discussing in detail the mass murder of American POWs at Malmedy during the "Battle of the Bulge," and for roundly condemning Senator Joseph McCarthy's subsequent misrepresentation of treatment accorded to suspected war criminals in US custody, but he errs in the assertion that there were former American POWs in Dora-Mittelbau. While future Saturn V Program director Arthur Rudolph oversaw V-2 guided missile production at Mittelwerk (central work), and allegedly witnessed in person in November 1944 a mass hanging from a gantry in that cavernous complex, the victims were camp resisters, not US POWs. Setting aside these criticisms, >>Comrades<< makes a fitting memorial to Nazi Germany's forgotten victims.
I have read Kirst in the original and to compare this book with his work doesn't do it justice. Kirst is WWII *Kitsch* at best, history relativism at worst.
This book is a cornucopia of factual information on WWII and the treatment of PoWs from WESTERN countries and the opportunistic post-war US politics regarding German war criminals, two largely neglected chapters of history. The personalities of the protagonists remain a bit remote and wooden, but I prefer that any time to an nostalgic or -- heaven's forbid -- *kitschy* approach.
It has given me, a German by birth and a historian by training, quite a few sleepless nights and I am grateful for that.
I highly recommend this book to anyone that loves adventure and the pursuit of justice.