Tag Archives: Olympics

“Berlin 1936: Sixteen Days in August,” by Oliver Hilmes; Jefferson Chase, trans.

Other Press. 296 pages. Hardcover $24.95.  

Oliver Hilmes provides magnificent storytelling in his vivid rendering of the Nazi-hosted Olympics. Through a shrewdly handled present tense narration, he puts readers into the scene of a phenomenal display that was meant to dazzle the world and blind it to Germany’s march toward the Holocaust. His narrative tone conveys intimacy and distance at the same time.

The sixteen days fill sixteen short chapters, each one replete with the predicted weather, tidbits of the day’s news, Nazi leaders and their devotees, high-living celebrity Berliners, restauranteurs, and musicians being showcased at posh venues. Then of course there are the visitors: spellbound American and European tourists thrilled to be part of the immense crowds at a once in a lifetime opportunity.

It’s a portrait of a glorious city at the pinnacle of its glory, However, the glory comes at an enormous expense. Who knew in 1936 how the monstrous machine that Hitler was building would invite destruction upon the German people and this splendid city?

Portrait Dr. Oliver Hilmes in Berlin
© Max Lautenschlaeger, Berlin

Hilmes implants plenty of clues about how the nation that was already a nightmare for many Jews would meet an unexpected destiny. He profiles many Jewish individuals whose livelihood is threatened, and we receive news about many others who live under already under Nazi subjugation.

Key personalities move in and out of the chapters as the days go by. Among them is the sensational young American author, Thomas Wolfe, a frequent visitor to Berlin, who is not expecting to discover the hidden corruption beneath the glitter and glamour of the city he has adored. When he pens his impressions about the Nazi betrayal of Germany’s better self, he finds his books no longer available in the Reich’s bookstores. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears on the Jewish Book Council website, click here:  Berlin 1936

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Headlines, deadlines, and death

Deadly News, by Don Farmer with Chris Curle. Publisher Page/Headline Books. 320 pages. Hardcover $24.95. Trade paperback $19.95.

Suppose the second Atlanta Olympics is about to begin and the news frenzy is ratcheting up while lavish parties feed the buzz. Atlanta’s business and political leaders are all eager to make a killing. Instead, a killing makes the news and threatens to upset their plans, as law enforcement agencies and news crews make the death of a movie star their primary focus.

Waning film star Cav Campbell didn’t just die, he plummeted from the 46th floor of a condo skyscraper and was impaled on the tower mast of TV news truck on hand to cover the celebratory pre-Olympic partying. Campbell, the boy-toy of Global News Service’s chief owner Brenda (“Bren”) Forrest, was a coke-head with a healthy tab and tan. Readers know early-on that he was tossed to his death by Eurasian beauty Lia Lee as part of a plot to weaken Bren’s hold on GNS so that British television and illegal drug entrepreneur Ian Phelps can take over her company.  Cover_DeadlyNews

Suspense rises from the question of whether or not the diabolical Phelps will succeed.

However, the investigation process is far from the major center of interest, especially since it does not take hold until the final fifty pages of the novel. Lia Lee is murdered before she can be found out (let alone arrested) – or is that Tia Lee, Lia’s twin?  Hmmmm, perplexing.

Much more engaging and much more authoritatively presented is the world of television news. Whether detailing the workings of the CNN-like Global News Service or the local Atlanta Channel  3 and its NewsBlitz3 so-called Satellite News Center, Mr. Farmer and Ms. Curle have it nailed. The bits and pieces of reporting, jockeying for position on camera or at the site of the action, and the control room banter are handled with an authenticity colored by sharp, satiric overtones.

Curle and Farmer

Curle and Farmer

The authors provide us with pomposity, other forms of vanity, eagerness, aggressiveness, industry, silliness, and even some downright professionalism. The race for getting the news out first, maybe even getting it right, regularly comes alive in the novel’s most entertaining passages. The parody of news-speak gets repetitious after a while, but it never gets dull. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the August 21, 2013 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the August 22 Naples edition, click here: Florida Weekly – Don Farmer

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