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from the End : The Last Days of World War II in Europe
In the waning weeks of World War II, a 34-year-old American intelligence officer found himself in Germany. Fluent in German, Yiddish, and French, Frank E. Manuel interrogated captured soldiers, from the grunts to the high commanders. Many broke down immediately:
PFCs and lieutenants and generals who talked and talked and talked, beat their gums until you had to shut them up, wept, whined, and tried to use the interrogation chamber as a confessional box, laying bare their souls to the first sympathetic auditor to whom they could speak without fear of reprisal...
Others were clearly made of sterner stuff, such as a young sergeant who demanded a direct order from a captured field marshal before he would reveal his secret mission.
Manuel blends snatches of interrogations; overheard conversations between German civilians, combatants, and American liberators; and his own observations. The result is choppy and disjointed, with little sense of a narrative. The author argues that this is by design: "Military historians have assembled a picture of the grand design, creating the myth of an official history," he writes, "but fragments may be closer to the chaos of experience in war before it has been subjected to cleansing."
Compiled from notes written immediately after he returned home from the war and letters written to his wife, Scenes from the End is a series of snapshots that, viewed together, provide an accurate picture of the dismal final days of World War II. --Sunny Delaney
From Booklist , January 1,
He portrays a shattered Europe where the black market rules and an entire population is in transit.
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