Tag Archives: Norway

#BookReview Spies of the Midnight Sun: A True Story of WWII Heroes by @Sammarquisbooks

Spies of the midnight sun book cover image.

five gold stars imageSPIES OF THE MIDNIGHT SUN: A TRUE STORY OF WWII HEROES

SAMUEL MARQUIS

 

You might ask me why I have read just about every one of Sam Marquis’ books, but don’t bother. I’m going to give you reasons why as I go along. As a former history teacher and continued historian and lover of history, perhaps those last two are one and the same, and having been known as a World, read European, History specialist, you would think I would know the finer details of something with such significance to the world as WWII. But, unfortunately all the nice money I paid for a top of the line college education failed me yet again. And I know this only because of that evil man writer known as Samuel Marquis.

Of all the books Marquis has written, his WWII trilogy is by far my favorite, only because of my love of history. I am biased that way. I love his other books too but again, I am biased. What sets his books apart from other historical fiction efforts is his deep research and attention to detail. He doesn’t just use information that is easy to find, he uses information that has been declassified by governments. That means he dredges through file after file and reads obscure books with information in it that would bore a bookaholic, all in the effort to find three characters little known by anyone outside of their families and immediate hierarchy during WWII.

Eddie Chapman Agent Zigzag
Eddie Chapman-Agent Zigzag

Spies of the Midnight Sun: A True Story of WWII Heroes is about real people. We have the colorful British safecracker, Eddie Chapman, who is the double agent known as Agent Zigzag. Then there are two amazing female Norwegian Resistance fighters, the 20-year-old model Dagmar Lahlum, who is Chapman’s lover, and Annemarie Breien. Of course, if there are heroes and good guys then there are the evil bad guy and of course Nazis cover that role well, and in this case, it is the Gestapo’s investigator Siegfried Fehmer.

Dagmar Lahlum
Dagmar Lahlum

Several reviewers have commented that this book should be a film and I agree. You have it all. Spies, the Resistance, Nazis, surprises, twists and turns, and moments of complete shock. And you can’t forget the must of great characters.

So why do I like Marquis’ books and recommend them to everyone? He isn’t just writing fluff about a favorite subject, which he could and get away with it because his writing is that good, he loves his subject deeply and it shows in the quality you get with each chapter. With Spies of the Midnight Sun, the final in his WWII trilogy, he chooses to spotlight the women who made victory possible. I don’t believe that fact has been shouted enough. He is bringing to light how important women were, the chances they took, the willingness to die, or perhaps experience worse, for their country’s freedom.

Annemarie Breien
Annemarie Breien

I only hope Sam Marquis has more historical fiction left in him. How he has put out this much in-depth content so rapidly and not slackened in his quality or even quantity of words for that matter, is beyond me. I’ve written historical fiction and afterwards I was so burnt out that I needed a serious break, but Marquis seems to have an IV of Red Bull permanently inserted in his veins.

Get this book! You don’t need to have read the other books in the trilogy. They are standalones. Once you read this one, you will WANT those others, especially Altar of Resistance, which includes declassified information about the Vatican and Pope’s roles during WWII. You will be surprised. Go to Amazon NOW before you forget to later!

Click any words in blue or any image to go to Amazon to order the book.

#Bookreview ‘One of Us’ by Åsne Seierstad (@AsneSeierstad). A disturbing and touching account of true horror

  • Title: One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway
  • Author: Åsne SeierstadSarah Death (Translator)
  • File Size: 1208 KB
  • Print Length: 545 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0374277893
  • Publisher: Virago (March 5, 2015)
  • Publication Date: March 5, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00PS665GY
One of Us by Åsne Seierstad Paperback
One of Us by Åsne Seierstad Paperback

Thanks to Net Galley and to the publishers, Virago, for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is an extraordinary book. Like most of us, I remember the news of Anders Behring Breivik’s terrible attack that killed seventy seven people in Norway, in what later became clear had been an ultra-conservative terrorist attack. I remember reading accounts written by the survivors and some of the articles trying to provide some sort of explanation, at the time. But when I saw the book I realised I had lost track of what had happened next, and having worked as a forensic psychiatrist for some years I was particularly intrigued.

The book achieves many things. It’s an accurate account of the events of that fateful day (22nd July 2011), or as accurate as it is possible to gather. It also studies the information available to provide background as to the biography and development of Breivik, although it does not purport to provide an explanation or even a hypothesis as to the reasons for his actions, but readers are free to agree or disagree with the various opinions expressed by the experts. Thanks to the interview the writer obtained with Breivik’s mother, we also get background as to the circumstances of his birth and his early childhood.  Although the nature of some of the information might be subjective, Seierstad tries to use different sources, like school and child psychologist reports, to ensure that the account is not one-sided. The book also describes, at times in excruciating detail, the changes in Breivik’s thoughts and motivations; his writing of his manifest, and later the execution of his plan. I was worried at times by the amount of detail provided (although I’m aware that there are many sources to find out how to make a bomb, more or less easily available) but I can see how that helps paint a clearer picture of the functioning of Breivik’s mind. And, to me, the most successful achievement of the book is the inclusion of the victims and their families, in some cases in more detail than others (that is down to the cooperation and the feelings of the families involved), but all as individuals. If to Breivik they were only Marxists in the making, to us they are individuals, mostly young people, generous, fun-loving, sporty, karaoke singing, and beautiful.

The breadth and depth of investigation is outstanding, the variety of sources and the seamless interweaving of the different strands of the story, different settings, countries, cultures, political beliefs, is an achievement in its own right. I discovered things I didn’t remember having heard about (like the many mistakes made by the Norwegian police and the national security forces) and at times I felt I was there, a powerless observer, unable to warn or help, and hoping against all hope.

Apart from informing me of many facts I didn’t know, what One of Us achieves, in my opinion, is to touch the heart of the reader and to help keep the memory of those who died that day very much alive. A very touching book that made me feel, if not a part of the tragedy (although yes, I felt that too), that perhaps I, we, could all be part of the solution. Not for the faint-hearted.

As a side-note, as a psychiatrist I could not help but keep pondering about possible diagnoses for Breivik, but without first-hand knowledge I’ll reserve my opinion (he clearly displays traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but the rest is not quite as straight-forward).

One of Us by Åsne Seierstad Hardback cover
One of Us by Åsne Seierstad Hardback cover

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 5/5
Made Me Think: 5/5
Overall enjoyment: 4.4/5
Readability: 4.5/5
Recommended: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5
 

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Thanks so much for reading, and remember to like, share, comment and click. 

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com