Publisher and Publication Date: Skyhorse Publishing. February 11, 2020.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Source: I received a complimentary hardback copy from the publisher, but was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers who are interested in the history in Germany between the two World Wars.
Rating: Very good.
Blog tour link at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
•“Adolf Hitler anointed himself with the name, Wolf, then plotted and connived with remorseless determination to become Der Fuhrer, Dictator, Savior of the Fatherland. As in ancient Greek drama, we know the ending to the story. The riddle is how we get there….A Hitler we did not know existed emerges page by page, all his bits and pieces, certain of his role as Savior of Germany, evil, driven, shrewd, an unrepentant, serial seducer of teenage girls, surrounded by toadies as ruthless as himself but not nearly so smart—his rise and words an unnerving parallel as we witness the continued erosion of democracy today in our own sweet land. Put this book on the shelf with Ludlum, Michener, and Clavell. Wolf deserves to be in their company.” —Stephen Foreman, author of Toehold, Watching Gideon, and Journey, and screenwriter of The Jazz Singer, Hostage, and America the Beautiful
•“Based on extensive research, the extraordinary novel Wolf, by Herbert J. Stern and Alan A. Winter, lifts the curtain so that the reader can observe through the eyes of a fictional character how a seemingly unremarkable corporal who was denied a promotion for lack of ‘leadership ability’ became dictator of Germany. The result is a gripping page-turner, a masterful historical novel.” —The Jewish Voice
•“Wolf offers a front row seat to the Nazi Party’s early years, expertly using the fictional protagonist Friedrich Richard to take the reader on a fifteen-year journey from the end of the First World War to Adolf Hitler’s seizure of absolute power in Germany. The reader experiences the gradual death of democracy in Weimar Germany like a slow-motion train wreck, equally fascinated and horrified. We all know how Hitler’s Thousand Year Reich ended, but Wolf shows us how the nightmare began. A compelling, thoroughly researched, and important work. Wolf is an impressive achievement. Exhaustively researched and richly detailed, it draws on new historical research to paint a fascinating portrait of Adolph Hitler that is more human and recognizable than most depictions—and thus even more chilling and sobering.” —Alex DeMille, co-author of The Deserter with bestselling author Nelson DeMille
•“Wolf will incite intense discussion in historical circles and book clubs alike. It is a poignant, persuasive, and ultimately terrifying story of how one man came to bend the path of history through oppression and genocide by taking one step at a time.” —Amy Wilhelm, senior writer, Book Club Babble
About the Authors:
Herbert J. Stern, formerly US attorney for the District of New Jersey, who prosecuted the mayors of Newark, Jersey City and Atlantic City, and served as judge of the US District Court for the District of New Jersey, is a trial lawyer. He also served as judge of the United States Court for Berlin. There he presided over a hijacking trial in the occupied American Sector of West Berlin. His book about the case, Judgment in Berlin, won the 1974 Freedom Foundation Award and became a film starring Martin Sheen and Sean Penn. He also wrote Diary of a DA: The True Story of the Prosecutor Who Took on the Mob, Fought Corruption, and Won, as well as the multi-volume legal work Trying Cases to Win.
Alan A. Winter is the author of four novels, including Island Bluffs, Snowflakes in the Sahara, Someone Else’s Son, and Savior’s Day, which Kirkus selected as a Best Book of 2013. Winter graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in history and has professional degrees from both New York University and Columbia, where he was an associate professor for many years. He edited an award-winning journal and has published more than twenty professional articles. Alan studied creative writing at Columbia’s Graduate School of General Studies. His screenplay, Polly, received honorable mention in the Austin Film Festival, and became the basis for Island Bluffs.
In the Great Tradition of Herman Wouk, Author of Winds of War and War and Remembrance, Wolf is a Thoroughly Researched and Illustrated Historical Novel about a Man who is Not Yet a Monster . . . but Will Soon Become the Ultimate One: Adolf Hitler.
Perhaps no man on Earth is more controversial, more hated, or more studied than Adolf Hitler. His exploits and every move are well-documented, from the time he first became chancellor and then-dictator of Germany to starting World War II to the systematic killing of millions of Jews. But how did he achieve power, and what was the makeup of the mind of a man who would deliberately inflict unimaginable horrors on millions of people?
Meet Friedrich Richard, an amnesiac soldier who, in 1918, encounters Hitler in the mental ward at Pasewalk Hospital. Hitler, then a corporal, diagnosed as a psychopath and helpless, suffering from hysterical blindness, introduces himself as Wolf to Friedrich and becomes dependent upon Friedrich for assistance, forming an unbreakable bond between the two men.
Follow Fredrich—our protagonist—who interacts with real people, places, and events, through the fifteen-year friendship that witnesses Hitler turn from a quiet painter into a megalomaniacal dictator. Using brand-new historical research to construct a realistic portrait of the evolving Hitler, Wolf will satisfy, by turns, history buffs and fiction fans alike. And as this complex story is masterfully presented, it answers the question of how a nondescript man became the world’s greatest monster.
To look at rare photos of Hitler during his stay at Pasewalk Hospital. Rare Historical Photos.
Further Summary and My Thoughts:
In the prologue, the book begins in 1933. This is the afterwards of the rest of the book. Actually, the book ends with a hint of a book two, because it doesn’t wrap up, it’s an abrupt stop.
Part I, chapter one, it is July 1918. A German soldier is in a hospital in Berlin recovering from wounds and surgery. He has no memory. He doesn’t know his name. He is later transferred to Pasewalk Hospital. The town of Pasewalk is in far east Germany near Poland. It’s near the Baltic Sea. It is a doctor at this hospital who names the German soldier with no memory. His name becomes Friedrich Richard. He is a tall and handsome man. Probably in his twenties. He learns early on that he knows guns and ammunition. He also knows how to fight. Pasewalk Hospital has patients who have a mental instability from being in the war. It’s a noisy hospital with men who scream, stutter, and sob loudly. Another soldier is brought to the hospital after he lost his eyesight in a gas attack. The two men become friends.
Even in the opening pages of the book, I don’t have empathy for these two soldiers. It’s a strange experience to not feel empathy for the characters. These feelings followed me through the entire book. I don’t like the men. I don’t care what happens to them. Of course I know what “Wolf” became. I know he was a disturbed-frenzied-psychopath murderer.
Friedrich is handsome and he attracts females like pesky flies. I didn’t have sympathy for any of the women.
It is difficult to read a lengthy book and be unmoved for the characters. I continued to read, because it is an enticing story about the origins of the Wolf’s demented beginnings.
Wolf is probably one of the most hated men who ever lived. To read a book that shows his human qualities is odd. He was a monster. I don’t want to read a book that brings human qualities about him. This is a block to overcome when reading this book.
The storyline showed me the reasons behind the Wolf’s brutality and insanity. And, his plot and purpose, and his steps to carry out those plans. I feel this story has achieved a strong storyline despite unlikable characters.
It is an achievement to write a book with unlikable characters-monsters, and, yet, draw the reader in to the story. It’s like walking a fine line.
Wolf is obviously not a feel good book. It requires a different “thinking cap” to read it.
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