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Night of the Assassins (2020)
by Howard Blum
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This is a book that mostly succeeds not, surprisingly enough, because the story itself is such a revelation, but because Howard Blum is a very good writer.
"Night of the Assassins" tells the story of "Hitler's plot" (but not really Hitler's - in fact, it's his henchmen who are responsible; Hitler himself really has little to do with this) to kill FDR, Churchill and Stalin. As readers familiar with WWII history already know, there were many rumors about an impending attempt on FDR's life during the Big Three's meeting in Iran. "Night of the Assassins" is the story of what really happened in Tehran.
Though we know the outcome of the attempted assassinations, the first half of the book is difficult to put down. The Nazi plotters, FDR's bodyguard, the Soviets (not sure where the British were in all this, but their security team is largely absent in the book) and more comprise quite a collection of characters. The plot itself was almost unbelievable. It's all really interesting.
The problem lies toward the end of the book, which seems to drag on and on. Now readers know the characters and the basics of the assassination plot, and the focus turns to how the Nazis were ultimately discovered and captured, which, alas, aren't really surprising. Perhaps this is why the final third of "Night of the Assassins" seems to be heavily padded with what the players might be thinking (Was it safe to proceed? Should he contact his superior before continuing? What if the Allies had gotten wind of the plot? - that sort of thing. Too many successive questions in a text is rarely a good thing).
Blum's writing - witty, clear and insightful - keep the reader going. But a good editor would have tightened the text at the end, and the result would have been a brilliant book instead of just a good one.
This is a very entertaining volume that follows the build up to the attempted assassination of the Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin at the Tehran Conference in late 1943. Blum gathers great stories from many sources to put together a compelling narrative that he keeps moving and holding the reader to the pages. It reads like fiction but it is based on voluminous research which he lists at the back of the book.
He covers both sides of the story- the German, American and the Russian. The British are short changed but there is still much to build a great story. The American side focuses on Roosevelt's Secret Service body guard, Mike Reilly. The German side focuses on SS General Walter Schellenberg and the Russian sources are several men who were in Iran and specifically Tehran to further Soviet influence.
In a brief essay in the rear of the book Blum comments on the criticism that one never really knows when writing a spy story whether one has all the information and there is the story true. He points out probably not as the information comes out in bits and pieces over time.
"A truly thrilling expose of the previously unknown Nazi assassination plot that could have changed history." -- Edward Jay Epstein, New York Times bestselling author of The Assassination Chronicles The New York Times bestselling author returns with a tale as riveting and suspenseful as any thriller: the true story of the Nazi plot to kill the leaders of the United States, Great Britain, and the U.S.S.R. during World War II. The mission: to kill the three most important and heavily guarded men in the world. The assassins: a specially trained team headed by the killer known as The Most Dangerous Man in Europe. The stakes: nothing less than the future of the Western world. The year is 1943 and the three Allied leaders--Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin--are meeting for the first time at a top-secret conference in Tehran. But the Nazis have learned about the meeting and Hitler sees it as his last chance to turn the tide. Although the war is undoubtedly lost, the Germans believe that perhaps a new set of Allied leaders might be willing to make a more reasonable peace in its aftermath. And so a plan is devised--code name Operation Long Jump--to assassinate FDR, Churchill, and Stalin. Immediately, a highly trained, hand-picked team of Nazi commandos is assembled, trained, armed with special weapons, and parachuted into Iran. They have six days to complete the daring assignment before the statesmen will return home. With no margin for error and little time to spare, Mike Reilly, the head of FDR's Secret Service detail--a man from a Montana silver mining town who describes himself as "an Irish cop with more muscle than brains"--must overcome his suspicions and instincts to work with a Soviet agent from the NKVD (the precursor to the KGB) to save the three most powerful men in the world. Filled with eight pages of black-and-white photographs, Night of the Assassins is a suspenseful true-life tale about an impossible mission, a ticking clock, and one man who stepped up to the challenge and prevented a world catastrophe.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)940.53History and Geography Europe Europe 1918- World War II
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As the story begins the reader is told how Germans were constantly trying to infiltrate staff of big 3 while Secret Service is having difficulties gather what they need to protect FDR. Due to his lack of mobility, FDR is especially vulnerable.
The Germans, were presented with the mission: to kill the three most important and heavily guarded men in the world.
Before the Tehran Conference was planned, the British had decoys who were to confuse the Germans, during one of this decoy missions, actor Leslie Howard (Gone With the Wind fame) was killed when he and a Churchill lookalike were mistaken for Churchill and his assistant.
The assassination team was headed by the killer known as The Most Dangerous Man in Europe.
In 1943, plans for FDR, Churchill, and Stalin to meet the first time are kept top secret. The location is finally decided but the German intelligence founds out and begin Operation Long Jump. Hitler sees this as the opportunity to turn the tide back in Germany's favor. Hitler believes that with new leaders for Allies, he will be able to get a more favorable peace. Highly trained, hand-picked team of Nazi commandos are assembled, trained, armed with special weapons, and parachute into Iran. They have 6 days to complete the final preparations for the strike.
Mike Reilly, the head of FDR’s Secret Service detail needs to put aside discomfort and work with a Soviet agent from the NKVD (the precursor to the KGB).
The author also states at the end that we will never know if all the details to this plot were uncovered, but fortunately, for history and the world, the assassinations were unsuccessful. ( )