A lively history of the role played by former Nazis in the postwar intelligence community.



A study of how surviving Nazis worked with the intelligence agencies of several countries after World War II.

Orbach, a Jerusalem-based historian whose books include The Plots Against Hitler (2016), begins near the end of the war, when it became clear to many Germans that they had lost. Gen. Reinhard Gehlen, a senior German intelligence analyst, created a plan to barter his expertise on the Soviet armed forces in exchange for a safe future. Gehlen, writes the author, “was above all else a survivor and a careerist, and he had every intention of surviving, and even thriving, amongst the downfall.” When American intelligence eventually realized what he could offer them, Gehlen was allowed to assemble the “Gehlen Org,” an independent German secret service under U.S. auspices. That organization became the route to new respectability for many ex-Nazis, some of them active participants in the Holocaust. Other former Nazis were recruited as consultants, in many cases providing intelligence (much of it dubious) to anyone willing to pay. The key qualification, as far as the U.S. and other Western intelligence services were concerned, was anti-communism. As a result, the Gehlen Org proved to be easily penetrated by Soviet agents, which led to its dissolution in the late 1950s. Orbach also traces the roles of ex-Nazis in Middle Eastern politics, including an attempt by Egypt to build up a missile program by enlisting German rocket scientists and a long-running operation by ex-Nazis based in Syria. Meanwhile, Israel’s Mossad took a lively interest in these characters’ activities, leading to a complex spy-vs.-spy game throughout the Middle East. Orbach draws a richly detailed story of the extensive role of German intelligence and military advisers in the Cold War decades. The book is full of shady characters and preposterous plots, making it an entertaining read for fans of real-life espionage history.

A lively history of the role played by former Nazis in the postwar intelligence community.

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64313-895-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2022

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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