February 1, 2017 Booklist 13 www.booklistonline.com
ing ships and their crews (rescue operations
began in earnest about a year and a half after the two ships set sail from England, and
quickly switched from rescue to recovery).
The author, a graceful writer, does a fine job
of turning the historical record into compelling drama, and, when he writes about the
modern-day quests to find the wreckage of
the Terror and the Erebus, he manages to keep
us in a constant state of suspense and hopeful
anticipation. An engrossing chronicle of a legendary doomed naval voyage and the nearly
200-year effort to bring the Franklin Expedition to a close. —David Pitt
Last Hope Island: Britain, Occupied
Europe, and the Brotherhood That
Helped Turn the Tide of War.
By Lynne Olson.
Apr. 2017. 576p. Random, $30 (9780812997354). 940.53.
This is a history book that reads like the
best thrillers. Olson, who has often written on
the period before WWII (Those Angry Days,
private citizens and soldiers (the airmen of Poland, leaders of Czechoslovakia, and the Free
French) during WWII. Focusing on these exiles, Olson offers a fascinating view of the war
and its aftermath, less from a military than
from a high-level civilian perspective. The
well-demonstrated incompetence of British
intelligence (especially in light of its diametrically opposite reputation) and its military and
civilian leaders occasionally lends the astute
writing an almost comic perspective. The narrative jumps from London to the Continent,
where British cooperation with the Resistance
in various countries had much to do with the
Allies’ victory, and this is carefully recounted.
The many individuals are finely drawn, major
developments (breaking of the Enigma code,
D-Day, the Battle of Arnhem, the crucial
contribution of the BBC) are well covered,
and the book provides an unusual and very
insightful angle on the war. —Mark Levine
Lenin on the Train.
By Catherine Merridale.
Mar. 2017. 368p. illus. Holt/Metropolitan, $30
Merridale smuggles readers onto a train
Never Quit: From Alaskan Wilderness
leaving Zurich in April 1917 that is car-
rying explosive freight: Vladimir Lenin,
the firebrand who will kindle a revolution-
ary conflagration in Russia. To be sure, this
epoch-making train has attracted other
chroniclers—Edmund Wilson, Alan Moore-
head, Michael Pearson, and Marcel Liebman.
But Merridale corrects factual errors made by
predecessors and opens a fresh interpretive
perspective. Personal reenactment of Lenin’s
eight-day train-and-ferry journey gives force
to materials uncovered through assiduous
research in newly opened archives as Mer-
ridale resolves perplexities long surrounding
the political gambles, devious espionage,
and shadowy financing that transport Lenin
through Germany on a sealed train bound
for a land tempestuously shedding its czarist
past and desperate for a leader to guide it into
an uncharted future. Merridale acknowledges
that Lenin’s journey now prompts a shudder
of horror because it subsequently exposes in-
nocent millions to Stalin’s ruthless tyranny.
But Merridale also glimpses the forgotten mo-
ment when an oppressed people ecstatically
welcome Lenin as a political savior offering
peace, freedom, and hope. History recovered
as living drama. —Bryce Christensen
Rescues to Afghanistan Firefights as an
Elite Special Ops PJ.
By Jimmy Settle and Don Rearden.
Mar. 2017. 320p. St. Martin’s, $26.99 (9781250102997).
In this autobiography of a member of Alaska’s 212th Pararescue Unit, the thrills come
a mile a minute, and more than once, Settle
seems poised on the brink of injury or death
while on the job. After slightly disjointed
opening chapters, the book, cowritten with
Alaska-based Rearden, turns into a more
conventional narrative. Settle describes his
freshman year in high school and athletic triumphs, his abject disappointment in the naval
academy, and, finally, a surprising but deeply
satisfying decision to join the para-jumpers
in the U.S. Air Force. A reassuring “band
of brothers” theme quickly emerges as Settle
delves into his hair-raising training experiences and rescue missions in Alaska. When duty
took him to Afghanistan, he was injured in a
nearly fatal operation in the Watapur Valley
and ultimately would be credited with saving
the lives of many of his fellow servicemen.
This is classic military writing, and Settle’s stories will be readily enjoyed by those seeking to
know more about this unusual military force.
Pair it with Amber Smith’s combat autobiography, Danger Close (2016), which explores
equally intense territory. —Colleen Mondor
YA: Older teens interested in the military
will find much of value in Settle’s life
Shoot like a Girl: One Woman’s Dramatic
Fight in Afghanistan and on the Home
By Mary Jennings Hegar.
Mar. 2017. 304p. NAL, $27 (9781101988435). 958.104.
Hegar knew exactly what she wanted to
be when she grew up: a pilot in the U.S.
Air Force. Though she pushed herself and
excelled in her training, she found that al-
though some superiors and fellow officers
treated her no differently because of her
gender, others singled her out for criticism
and, in one case, sexual assault. Not one to
be deterred, Hegar pressed on, even after she
wasn’t selected as a pilot, working her way up
to the rank of captain. She finally received
her wings and was sent to Afghanistan to
fly rescue missions. Hegar didn’t just face
off against enemy combatants; after a recur-
ring knee injury sidelined her, she joined an
ACLU-led lawsuit against the military to al-
low women to serve in combat. Taking its
title from a compliment an instructor gave
Hegar on her marksmanship, Hegar’s inspi-
rational memoir reflects the strength and
grace with which she approached her service
to her country, whether she was venturing
behind enemy lines to rescue wounded sol-
diers or standing up for women’s right to be
on the front line. —Kristine Huntley
YA: An accessible and encouraging
read for teens, especially young women
interested in military service. KH.
A World Erased: A Grandson’s Search for
His Family’s Holocaust Secrets.
By Noah Lederman.
Feb. 2017. 256p. Rowman & Littlefield, $24.95
(9781442267435); e-book, $23.99 (9781442267442).
As a youth, Lederman was only vaguely
aware of the history of his grandparents as
Holocaust survivors. In Lederman’s close,
loving extended family in America, questions
to his grandparents on the topic were usually
deflected. As an adult, a trip to Holocaust-related sites in eastern Europe triggered an
intense interest in Lederman for his family’s
experiences. His now-widowed grandmother,
perhaps as a form of therapy, slowly but with
vivid detail finally revealed her story, and the
result is this harrowing and deeply shocking if
sometimes uplifting account. This is a wide-ranging memoir, covering the vibrant, prewar
Jewish life in Poland, the Nazi-imposed Jewish
ghetto and subsequent extermination camps,
the postwar confinement in displaced person
camps, and the move to America. In passionate and sometimes hate-filled invective, his
grandmother lashes out at her Nazi persecutors but also at many goyim, Poles whom she
describes as viciously anti-Semitic. If there is a
hero here, it is Lederman’s grandmother, who
consistently displays remarkable courage and
resilience in the face of horrible traumas. This
is a vital contribution to Holocaust collections. —Jay Freeman
Malek’s writing vividly captures the personalities of her family members and friends as well as her own impressions of Syria, allowing
readers insight into the personal stakes of the ongoing war.
—Laura Chanoux, on The Home that Was Our Country