This book struck me as rather similar to The Day of the Jackal They were international thrillers that made a few tweaks to history to serve an exciting new history and encompassed a wide range of characters However, where The Day of the Jackal failed because I had already seen the movie, my ignorance of this movie helped keep the book s tension ratcheted up And really, that is the most appealing part of this book the tension What plans will go awry, how will small, seemingly insignificant, events impact the much greater flow of history, who will live or die kept me heavily engaged with the story In The Day of the Jackal these questions had already been answered for me because of the movies In this case I was genuinely concerned that at any point the the alleged protagonist could be killed and one of the other characters would pick up where he left off Really riveting stuff.So where The Day of the Jackal took a historical counterfactual with events immediately after an attempted assassination of French president Charles De Gaulle The Odessa File decides to follow a counterfactual of the existence of an international organization, Odessa, dedicated to protecting and enriching former Nazi SS members I say counter factual because, while many former Nazis were certainly aided in fleeing Europe post war, it is unlikely there was one overarching organization that did all of it The story follows a young German journalist who stumbles across an account of a recently deceased Jewish concentration camp survivor who was convinced his camp s overseer who was responsible for tens of thousands of deaths was still alive and prospering in post war 1960 s Germany Thus starts a hunt for Odessa that has significant repercussions on the international stage all nicely folded into the flow of actual history.What I really enjoyed about this book is how every character had their own motivations and pursued them Even people on ostensibly the same side had their own agendas and were than happy to use their erstwhile allies to achieve them even if that meant screwing said allies over or getting them killed It was also refreshing to see the bad guys actually be competent but also constrained by circumstances These were all not powerful Nazis who turn out to be incompetent you ve got to have some smarts to outlast the Kennedy administration while being hunted internaitonally but rather a highly organized network of fanatics who faced the same sort of technological and informational constraints a everyone else It was a pretty even match up throughout the book which nicely contributed to the book s tension The use of multiple characters points of view was also deftly utilized to give the reader a greater context for the events of the book and raise the stakes above the simple hunt for an ex Nazi officer It was great to see why all these myriad characters were acting as they did and it really enriched the story.While there were a lot of characters there wasn t really a ton of characterization Like The Day of the Jackal Forsyth gave plenty of background history to the important characters he introduced, but apart from the Journalist we don t really get a deep dive on any other characters This is fine by me because the suspense of the story kept me turning pages instead of the characters and the Journalist pulled enough character development weight to carry that aspect of the story This is a great read for anyone who enjoys thrillers, historical fiction, or WWII history I have a feeling that, if The Day of the Jackal is any guide, seeing the movie ahead of time will significantly degrade the experience, so read the book first. Set in the early 1960 s in West Germany with some scenes from Israel and Nasserite Egypt , this electrifying book has all the elements of a good historical spy novel suspense,danger,action,human drama as well as a lot of food for thought.We come across a lot of interesting real figures from the time such as Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal and the head head of MOSSAD Meir Amit as well the evil psycopathic SS Officer Eduard Roschmann who in the novel is hunted by a young German journalist , Peter Miller We also read about statesmen and nation builders at the time such as West German Chancellors Konrad Adenauer and Ludwig Erhardt , Israeli leaders David Ben Gurion , Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir as well the warlike Egyptian dictator Gamel Abdel Nasser.The novel itself begins with the news of the assasination of John F Kennedy But the ordinary grassroots characters too are equally believable from Millers simple but good hearted and beautiful girlfriend Sigrid Rahn to the Israeli agent Uri Ben Shaul alias Josef to doctors and nurses,civil servants ,secretaries and housemaids The novel is largely based on a true story and includes several important lessons from history.It lays bare the satanic evil of the Nazi SS while also oulining that ordinary Germans are good people ,as described in the novel by excerpts from the diary of holocaust survivor Salomon Tauber which is a very instructive and insightful piece in itself.It also shows the high level of cooperation between Nazi exiles and Arab states in their evil plans to destroy the tiny state of Israel The attempt to do so still continues today and should be exposed for what it is naked anti semitism and hatred. The Suicide Of An Elderly German Jew Explodes Into Revelation After Revelation A Mafia Like Organization Called Odessa, A Real Life Fugitive Known At The Butcher Of Riga , A Young German Journalist Turned Obsessed Avengerand Ultimately, Of A Brilliant, Ruthless Plot To Reestablish The Worldwide Power Of SS Mass Murders And To Carry Out Hitler S Chilling Final Solution The infamous Nazi organization ODESSA, internationally famous for its war aids after the Second World War, is discovered in its own labyrinths by a journalist researcher.The German journalist finds a common thread when investigating the reasons for the suicide of an old Jew, finding some accusing documents of the deceased against a head of a Nazi extermination camp.All this immerses him in a vortex where, surprisingly, he must face facts of his own family past.Forsyth s novel is compelling, forcing the reader to understand both the characters and the action, especially in this case where what is fictional merges with the reality of what was that horror of genocide. After the formidable tour de force of The day of the Jackal Forsyth returns with his The ODESSA file Organisation Der Ehemaligen SS Angehorigen And it is a brilliant thriller about a post WWII German journalist his gets his hands on a diary of a Jewish man that survived the horrors of Riga And if you knew never anything about some of the horrible crimes committed during the last great war you find out galore of the crimes committed by the Nazis especially by those of the SS.The book sets Peter Miller out on a search for the commanding officer of the Riga death camp and as only Forsyth can write it we find out how difficult it is in even a post WWII Germany to find out about war crimes Even I as a kid was somewhat surprised while playing with German kids when I was younger about the collective guilt that was still carried by the German people this was the early seventies.We meet some once famous people like Simon Wiesenthal who explain about the SS excesses and how they organised to disappear before the war was over and how the Wehrmacht was used to win time at the losing end of the war for the SS to lose themselves sometimes even in plain sight.This thriller set in a post WWII Germany resembles a nightmare of the variety of sheer unbelievably reality I was always surprised how few big and responsible Nazi bigwigs were actually brought before a court of law This book goes some way explaining it.The thriller aspect of the book was very well done and puts you on the edge of your seat The motivation of the main character is revealed at the end, which is why I subtracted one star as I figured it out quite early on in the tale and it took some away from the thriller aspect.The sideshow about the rockets in Egypt, influential former Nazis still at large in Germany and the Israeli secret service made this a brilliant thriller that was difficult to stop reading So I finished it in one long and way to warm summer day 37 degrees Celsius in the shade.This was one of the early Forsyths I never got to read when I was younger with me buying a set of the three early Forsyths in hardcover it was bound to be the first one to be read as I had never done so before.Forsyth is perhaps one of the better thriller writers of this era and well worth a reading if you have not done so before The story he weaves are full of scary details and yet very well written and difficult to stop to read once you have started it. ODESSA File shows us a very dark and brutal side of humanity Although I do not know a single Jew, I have wept over and prayed for the millions of Jews killed during the Second World War I have heard arguments that the Holocaust is just another casualty of War It is amazing that despite a full fledged war raging all around the world, the Germans had the time, the patience, the resources and the desire to annihilate millions of men, women and children What is chilling about the Holocaust is the cold precision with which the SS and Gestapo hunted and rounded up the Jews and other undesirables and murdered them or in their words, exterminated them as one would vermin and other pests Every aspect of the annihilation was planned meticulously, from the rounding up to the extermination in gas chambers or crematoria When you think that it is people going to such lengths to murder their own friends and neighbors your mind does a blank, it refuses to think, to accept that there can exist such people But sadly they do What is even amazing is that there were people who also went to a great deal of trouble to hide, help and aid the Jews or undesirables their friends What gives simple men this tremendous courage knowing if they were caught, a certain death awaited them.What is amazing too is the trouble, countries and friends went succor the Nazis when they were fleeing Germany at the end of the War We do know that the Nazis were accepted with open arms in many Latin American countries.Were these leaders so compassionate Was greed that motivated them Do we all have a price If and when we take a good look at the Holocaust, read about it, maybe put ourselves in the shoes of the victims, difficult but yes, in the shoes of the perpetrators, we are faced with a host of questions that we should ask ourselves A holocaust victim once asked unable to comprehend the enormity of what had happened to his family, friends, neighbours Where was God And he got a reply Where was Man Just today, my friend Lilo wrote But don t forget Not all Germans were Nazis And once Hitler was in power, non Nazis were totally helpless It took Hitler only a few weeks to turn Germany into a bomb tight police state And once this was accomplished, every opposition or dissent was equivalent to suicide And I reply with great humility,Yes Lilo, I agree What do I know of being so frightened, so frightened that I cannot think straight, let alone stand up to the might of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, but through all that, despite being frightened out of their minds, despite being in grave danger, terrible danger to their own lives, many Germans did save Jews There are no words for such heroism.Thank you Lilo, for showing me another angle. Hunting Nazis, particularly SS Nazis, still had some cachet when The Odessa File was written in 1972 and the deeds of famous Nazi hunter, Simon Wiesenthal, who had aided the Mossad division of the Israeli Secret Service in identifying and capturing Adolph Eichmann only twelve years earlier, were in the news quite regularly.I read The Odessa File years ago, in the seventies, after reading Day of the Jackal Remembering recently that I had enjoyed The Odessa File , I decided to read it again It was an ok second read, but I think maybe my memories of films I saw, books I read, parties I attended, forty and fifty years ago have dimmed somewhat, but at least I still have them 2 stars just. An early work from the father of the modern espionage thriller, and it contains my biggest pet peeve a protagonist doing something incredibly stupid And it s okay Peter Miller is a reporter, not a trained undercover agent Through the convergence of bad luck, laziness, entitlement, and not truly believing all the precautions taught to him were necessary, he blows his cover almost immediately The story never really hinged on this anyway It s about how the diary of a Holocaust survivor who killed himself leads to the investigation The ODESSA, a real life Nazi organization that used stolen wealth to further their twisted philosophies To varying degrees Forsyth always used fiction to expose reality He is always entertaining while doing so. The Odessa File from Frederick Forsyth is one of the most successful and engaging thrillers written with the hunt for Nazi s after the World War II as the central theme The novel is a clever blend of historical facts and real life personnel s with a fictitious story line and is written with the high level of detailing and decent pace that is usually associated with the works of Forsyth.Forsyth as an author of realistic thrillers Frederick Forsyth, CBE Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire , was born on 25 August 1938, and was a RAF pilot and journalist before becoming an author of high octane thrillers Image Source In an interview given to BBC 2 months back, Forsyth revealed his associations with MI6 as an asset , when he disclosed that he was reporting back to the Secret Intelligence Service during his stint as a freelance reporter covering Biafran War in Nigeria during the late 1960sFor the last year of the Biafran War I was sending both journalistic reports to the media and other reports to my new friendrefering to the intelligence officer who approached him to report back about the truth of the situation regarding the death of children during the civil warThe Foreign Office was denying that there were any dying children and they were passionate in supporting the dictatorship in Lagos, and it was, oddly enough, MI6 that had a different viewpointThese associations and access to inside stories would have certainly helped him in his background researches while writing his books The research that is undertaken, along with the real life experience he had as a journalist is noticeable in his works and the technical detailing that he employs while describing locations, events, tradecrafts and equipments makes his thrillers which have a feeling of non fiction investigative reportsrealistic and highly engaging The most noticeable realistic detailing in his books are seen in the scenes in which the tradecraft of espionage is employed the methods used for communication between the agents and their handlers like use of dead drops, one time pad based encryption the methods employed by assassins and operatives to infiltrate through national borders the methods employed by agents in acquiring arms once behind enemy lines the use of technology for electronic eavesdropping and visual surveillance descriptions of the use of shell companies usually hiding behind a crazy trail of paperwork s looping back through continents by both intelligence agencies and nefarious organizations for fronting their operations and for funneling large volumes of hard to trace money Forsyth s use of real life methods makes these descriptions add to the immense enjoyment factor of his books In an interview that he gave to The Guardian in October, 2015, he expressed that he was getting and detached from the technology and tradecraft of modern times and he felt like a dinosaur while doing his research for the 2013 thriller, The Kill List The world is becoming very technically complex I can t understand half of it The way GCHQ do it now, the way they are listening to half a snatched conversation in Yemen the way a man in Nevada can steer a drone into a car containing a top ISIL man and he is gone in a puff of smoke perceived by none in the middle of nowhere it is a new warfare beyond me, and past me I am another generationSource Taking account of The Guardian interview, his best works in my opinion as a fan, is those novels, which relate to the timeframe of the cold war and works related to events before the cold war He was mixing solid facts, history, his experience and his imagination to create genre redefining thriller novels It may be his close association with the scene as a journalist and as an intelligence asset during that timeframe, which make those novels stand out brightly among his works The Odessa File The NovelPublished in 1972, The Odessa File describes the story of Peter Miller , a fictitious German reporter and his quest in tracking down Eduard Roschmann the commandant of the Riga ghetto during 1943 and who was responsible for numerous murders and other atrocities who had managed to escape from Germany in 1945 after the war From a chance encounter that Peter Millar has with the diaries of Salomon Tauber , a Jewish Holocaust survivor who has committed suicide, he comes to know about Tauber s life, his stories in the Riga Ghetto and about the atrocities performed by The Butcher of Riga , Eduard Roschmann Miller s attempts in persuading government machinery in tracking down Roschmann , is turned down without much explanations So he decides to trace Roschmann himself and he is driven by both the guilt that he feels for the acts of his forefathers and by a personal motive, which adds to the suspense of the story His search for Roschmann pulls him in to the gray world of secret societies, assassins, vigilante agents, intelligence agencies, deception and personal revenge, and with the detailing and flair associated with Forsyth s style of narration, the reader is in for a thrilling ride made out of history and fragments of imagination The first seeds of idea behind The Odessa File came to Forsyth in 1970, when he was given a three book deal by Hutchinson , his publisher after the successful submission of the manuscript of The Day of Jackal Furiously searching his mind for a theme, he decided to base his new book on the rumor stories he had heard about Odessa a global organization, which specialized in supporting ex Nazi s from his journalist dayslet s think manhunt Nazis manhunt Eichmann been done, done to death, can t make a novel on Eichmann, ten years ago, let s try something different a story about a notorious and savagely brutal Nazi camp commandant, who has disappeared after 1945 a hunt for his is being carried out, not by the Jews or the West German authorities, but by one single German reporter, an investigative reporter he s just so utterly horrified by what his forefathers did that he decides to hunt the man down himself. Source Hunting Evil by Guy WaltersSimon Wiesenthal Source Forsyth visited Simon Wiesenthal Holocaust survivor, an Austrian writer and Nazi hunter, who dedicated most of his life to tracking down and gathering information on fugitive Nazi war criminals in Vienna for gaining insights into the project that he was undertaking and it was Wiesenthal who gave Forsyth the idea to use Eduard Roschmann as the savagely brutal Nazi camp commandant in his novel Wiesenthal, himself makes an appearance as a character within the novel and it is from him that Miller gains knowledge about ODESSA.The Butcher of Riga The protagonist of our novel comes to know about Eduard Roschmann and the life at the Riga Ghetto through the diaries of Tauber Riga, the capital of Latvia was a main centre for Latvian Jews with many cultural, religious, social and political institutions In mid 1941, Germany invaded Soviet Union and within days Latvia was under German occupation From the very first day of the occupation, the systematic persecution of Latvian Jews began and a whole string of crimes and atrocities by both the occupying German forces, especially the task force Einsatzgruppe A and Latvian collaborators like Arajs Kommando view spoiler Arajs Kommando were a unit of Latvian Auxiliary Police subordinated to the Nazi Sicherheitsdienst and one among the most notorious killing units during the Holocaust took part in the mass execution of Jews from the Riga ghetto, and several thousand Jews deported from Germany, in the Rumbula massacre of November 30 and December 8, 1941 hide spoiler 5 STAR STORY ELEMENT ROLL CALL Nazis Here International Intrigue Present Secret Societies Here Nazi Hunters Israeli Mossad Here, Sir Interesting Plot Present Compelling Main CharacterUh, Compelling Main CharacterAnyone.Main Character we care aboutSHIT Excitement and Suspensehello.Excitement, Suspense..Anyone..has anyone seen any hint of excitement or suspense in this bookanywhere at all..come on people Oh dammit, crap, hellsville don t do this to me On paper this book had 4 or 5 stars written all over it and I really thought I was going to love it A well written political thriller involving the hunting down of a Nazi war criminal and a worldwide secret organization of former SS members trying to reclaim powerwhat exactly is not to love Apparently, much, because in the end, it fell shorter than Mini Me which left me floating in disappointment.The title of the book is derived from the German Acronyn O.D.E.S.S.A Organisation der Ehemaligen SS Angeh rigen which means Organization of Former Members of the SS The novel postulates that there is a world wide organization of former Nazis established prior to the end of World War II to assist SS members in escaping Germany for places of safety e.g., Argentina The organization has since become a behind the scenes power broker that continues to dream of reclaiming world power The book takes place in 1963 shortly after the Kennedy assassination There are two different plot threads in the story The primary plot involves a German crime reporter named Peter Miller who comes into possession of the diary of a Jewish holocaust survivor who has recently committed suicide The diary details the man s 4 years in a Nazi concentration camp called Riga and the brutal atrocities committed there by Eduard Roschmann known as the Butcher of Riga Miller decides to determine if Roschmann is still alive and to track him down Almost immediately, he begins to face resistance from his superiors and local law enforcement and the influence and machinations of ODESSA are slowly revealed The second plot thread involves ODESSA trying to assist Egypt in the build up to the Six Day War in creating rockets that can be used to destroy Israel The plan is to use warheads containing radioactive material that will kill everyone in the Jewish state However, in order to succeed, the warheads will need a highly efficient guidance system as the rockets will need to hit precise locations in Israel in order to accomplish its goal This guidance system is being produced by ODESSA inside Germany Throughout the story, we are given extensive background through the diary of the atrocities committed by Roschmann and his eventual escape at the end of World War II the book is worth reading for this alone as the experiences documented here are tragic and heart breaking but very, very authentic We are also given significant information on the creation and evolution of ODESSA which is quite interesting The book is also well written and the historical details included were compelling though at times very disturbing to read In the end, there were two things that I thought the story lacked The first was an engaging main character I thought Peter Miller, while well drawn, was not quite as interesting as watching paint dry I just never really cared what happened to him so it took a lot of the enjoyment out of the story The second thing the book lacked, which may very well be related to the first, is any real excitement or suspense As the plot moved forward, there were no edge of seat hanging moments or anything even close to it I would have settled for a cheap thrill This along with characters I didn t care about made the story feel slow and very plodding Overall, while I loved the idea of the book, the execution was too pedestrian for me to give it the 3 stars Now take this same set up and have a James Bond type hero working with a small group of smart super spies attempting to smash S.P.E.C.T.R.E ODESSA and save the day.that would be EPIC This onegood not great 3.0 Stars.
Frederick Forsyth, CBE is an English author and occasional political commentator He is best known for thrillers such as The Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File, The Fourth Protocol, The Dogs of War, The Devil s Alternative, The Fist of God, Icon, The Veteran, Avenger, The Afghan, and recently The Cobra and The Kill List.The son of a furrier, he was born in Ashford, Kent, educated at Tonbridge
- 334 pages
- The Odessa File
- Frederick Forsyth
- 27 June 2017 Frederick Forsyth