Friday, July 14, 2017

Zoo Station by David Downing (Soho, 2007)


First here is a book review, reprinted from BookLoons where it appeared in 2007:

Here is an absolutely first-rate espionage thriller for fans of historical suspense novels. When readers join the action of Zoo Station, Nazi Germany is on the eve of war, and British-American journalist John Russell is about to become involved in a situation that will severely test his moral principles and his survival skills.

Approached by the Russians in early 1939 to write a series of articles about everyday German life, the Berlin-based Russell cannot pass up the lucrative opportunity, though he wisely has reservations about the level of his commitment to the Russians. At the same time, as a condition of his permission to continue working as a journalist in Berlin, the Nazi officials announce that they must preview and approve each of Russell's articles before it is dispatched; there is, though, another troublesome condition to the Nazi oversight: Russell must also fully apprise the Germans of whatever he discovers about the level and purpose of Russian interest and the potential for Russian threats to the Reich.

Caught in the middle and full of misgivings, Russell nevertheless goes ahead with playing out his commitments to the Russians and the Germans. However, a complicated situation becomes even more complex when an American journalist tells Russell about a sinister Nazi plan that would call for the mercy killing of more than 100,000 incurables within the Reich. And - at the same time - Russell finds himself drawn into helping a Jewish family whose future survival is doubtful. Walking a dangerously taut tightrope, and knowing that any misstep will almost certainly lead to failure and death for himself and others, Russell must find a way of doing the right thing but at the same time also protect his German girlfriend and son.

Zoo Station is a terrifying wartime thriller that I am recommending to everyone! As a top-notch tale of an ordinary man living in extraordinary times, David Downing's Zoo Station is a powerful rendering of one of histories most horrible periods and Nazi Germany's shocking capacity for evil. Zoo Station is, quite simply, an absolute must read.

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And here is a personal postscript:

If you read my previous posting, you will understand that I have decided to focus on military history and aviation. Well, as a supplement to that focus, because I embrace an eclectic approach to my "research" interests, I will also be including books reviews and discussions of novels and nonfiction books in which the world wars of the 20th century are featured. The foregoing is one such review. Please stay tuned for more. Now, though, let me ask you a question:

What are your favorite novels or nonfiction books in which the world wars of the 20th century are featured?






10 comments:

  1. Thanks for your review! I have read Downing before, I think...he did an alternate history of WW2 in which the German invasion of Russia is more successful. ("The Moscow Option").

    One WW1/WW2 novel that stands out for me is "Once an Eagle", which I'm sure you've heard of. It follows two soldiers from the Great War to the end of Korea.

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  2. Stephen, I've read a couple by Downing, and I will probably mention them soon. Thank you for your recommendation. It is a book with which I am not familiar; I have already gone to my library's site and requested a copy. Again, thanks.

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  3. The Army may favor it more than the Navy; I've seen it on OCS reading lists.

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    1. Stephen, a book on the Navy's leadership reading list is _The Caine Mutiny_. I've seen the movie but hope to read the book one of these days.

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  4. i remember "The Naked and the Dead", perused when i was very young and stupid... i liked it and thought Mailer had described the true nature of was: boring, uncomfortable, and dangerous... but i don't think i'd like it now, what with
    my developed prejudices at an advanced age...


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    1. Mudpuddle, Mailer's novel has a reputation for being one of the best of its type. I haven't read it but might.

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  5. R.T.,

    Erich Maria Remarque's _All Quiet on the Western Front_ comes immediately to mind.

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    1. Fred, I read it years ago and should track down a copy for another visit.

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  6. This sounds very good. I would like to read it.

    I love fictional films that take place during World War II but I have not read much fiction that focuses on the war. I really should change that going forward.

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  7. Brian, yes, Downing's WW2 books are pretty good!

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