Monthly Archives: August 2019

“The German Midwife: A Novel,” by Mandy Robotham

  • Avon. 352 pages. Trade paperback $15.99.

This story, narrated from behind Axis lines, captures the enduring strength of women.

Originally published in the U.K. as A Woman of War, the instant bestseller The German Midwife offers astonishing portraits of several women caught up in Hitler’s nightmarish aspirations. The circumstances that threaten the lives of these women (and of countless others) make this story at once an historical novel, a thriller, and a romance.

The narrator, a young nurse and midwife named Anke Hoff, finds herself in a Nazi work camp where she is essentially a prisoner. Though the timeline of the story starts in 1944, italicized flashbacks begin two years earlier, establishing an historical, professional, and familial context for understanding Anke. These sections also illuminate the deteriorating situation for people living under the Reich, whether they be citizens, despised minorities, or resistance sympathizers.

Anke is imprisoned for having provided birthing services for Jewish women despite a Nazi policy to end Jewish reproduction. Inside the camp, she shows leadership, compassion, and disdain for her country’s moral decline.

Robotham

Nonetheless, because she is the most skilled midwife available, she is selected — actually, ordered — to protect the Fuhrer’s child incubating in the womb of Fraulein Eva Braun. Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and his wife, Magda, will make sure that Anke performs her duties properly, as will the staff attending to Hitler’s mountain estate and headquarters. This child, especially if a boy, will insure the future of Hitler’s genetic line and racial vision.

Anke develops a liking for Eva, whom she considers an innocent young woman slavishly enamored of the devil. She develops much more than a liking for a handsome and considerate Nazi officer, Captain Deiter Stenz, who carries out important duties at the headquarters. She is perplexed by how a man she respects can be part of the Nazi mission. Readers will be similarly puzzled.

Suspense — and there is plenty of it — in this carefully developed narrative arises primarily from the ups and downs in Eva’s high-stakes pregnancy, the risks of Anke’s romantic dalliance, and the shadowy references to the progress of the war. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the Washington Independent Review of Books, click here: German Midwife

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The moral element shines brightly in this heart-pounding tale of historical nautical adventure

Jacket blurb by Phil Jason blurbing as U.S. Naval Academy Professor Emeritus Philip K. Jason: “Macomber is today’s foremost practitioner of a fascinating subgenre: historical fiction of the nautical variety. Building his series on the imagined autobiography of Peter Wake, he’s given readers a vivid, multi-dimensional hero. Macomber makes the remarkable times he portrays glow. This latest title is no exception. History comes alive.”

Honoring the Enemy, by Robert N. Macomber. Naval Institute Press. 368 pages. Hardcover $29.95.

This is the 14th installment of Mr. Macomber’s classic “Captain Peter Wake Novel” series. It is the first with his new publisher, and what a wonderful pairing it is to have such a fascinating series under the imprint of the Naval Institute Press. The series is also known as the “Honor” series, as that word appears in each of the titles. Old and new Macomber readers will appreciate the useful “Timeline of Peter Wake’s Life” that sets the protagonist in his historical context and in the parameters of his unique values, skills, and personality.

The author blends international politics, seamanship, strategic planning, and technology into a succulent stew. However, little else is succulent in this wartime drama notable for undependable supply lines and a scarcity of nourishment.

What we’ve got here, folks, is the Spanish-American War as adversaries battle for dominance in Cuba during June and July of 1898.

Wake is a proud patriot, always motivated to serve his country, but these days he has a bit of a chip on his shoulder. After long years working up the responsibility ladder, he thought he had proven himself worthy of being given command of his own ship. But that didn’t happen. He had made too many enemies and – as a man who doesn’t mince words – there was little support for this former espionage specialist. No politician, he just didn’t have the right connections. After all, he was one of the few Navy officers who had not graduated from the Naval Academy.

Rather than driving a ship, he heads a small Navy team that is a liaison to the U. S. Army’s effort to free Cuba from Spanish rule. He reports to generals who are orchestrating a joint U. S. and Cuban liberation force. In this effort, he is finding the Spanish forces estimable and discovering that the U. S. effort mixes clever initiatives with large measures of incompetence.

The story Wake tells us involves not only his perspectives and actions, but his remembrance of how effectively his old friend Theodore Roosevelt comported himself during this campaign. Indeed, Mr. Macomber’s portrait of the president-to-be, filtered through Wake’s observations and judgments, is among the book’s many engaging threads, with unexpected comic elements to leaven the blood-soaked, storm-tossed, death-inviting narrative. . . .

To see the entire review, as it appears in the August 8, 2019 issue of the Naples, Palm Beach, and Venice editions of  Florida Weekly, as well as the August 14 Fort Myers  and August 15 Charlotte County editions, click here:  Honoring the Enemy

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