Wolfby Alan A. Winters, Herbert J. Stein Published by Skyhorse on February 11, 2020
Genres: Adult, Historical Retelling
Source: TLC Book Tours
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I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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 Friedich—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.
Historical figures are always intriguing, even when they are the more notorious and reviled ones that we’d rather forget. Wolf: A Novel is a historical retelling of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Germany in the early twentieth century, told from the perspective of the fictional man who befriends Hitler when they are both young soldiers and were injured in World War I in 1918. While this man recovered from his shrapnel wounds and tried to recover his memory, his amnesia persisted and he assumed the identity of a soldier named Friedrich Richard. Hitler’s temporary blindness from a gas attack leaves him vulnerable and in need of help, and Friedrich fills his time helping his new roommate–who has told him to call him by the nickname of Wolf.
The two forge a strong bond that has Friedrich and Adolf coming in and out of each other’s lives over the next 15 years, and the almost co-dependent relationship when it comes to Hitler’s reliance on Friedrich to solve his problems for him is as predictable as Friedrich’s tendency to come running when Hitler’s closest men call for him. This book doesn’t make light of Hitler’s character or try to make him appear a better man, and what’s left is a staunch portrait of someone who once was a painter and turned into the maniacal dictator that the world hadn’t seen before.
Friedrich’s amnesia bothers him quite a bit, and he tries to hide it from most of those he meets–especially those in Hitler’s camp. He’s friends with Jewish people in Germany and his greatest friends and allies throughout the years are Jews. But Friedrich is easily led astray by the philosophies of whomever he is around at the time, and he drops everything to be at Hitler’s beckon call. He’s destroyed good relationships and cast aside jobs that make him happy to clean up Hitler’s messes, and while Friedrich is loyal to a fault, his loyalties should lie elsewhere–and he doesn’t see that until it’s too late.
I give Wolf: A Novel a four out of five. The historical accuracy of this novel is amazing, and everything is well-researched and well-plotted. Friedrich was an enjoyable person to live the story through, but he was not that likable a person, however. He was a bit too maleable in his beliefs–especially when his amnesia was still fresh, and his loyalty to his girlfriends was practically non-existent. All of these opportunities practically fell into his lap because of the people he knew, and he often times just threw it all away. But his loyalty to his oldest friends stayed strong until the end–no matter who they were. I really enjoyed reading about all of the historical events along with the names from industry, banking, and other famous families that we still recognize today. This hard time in history where oppression and anti-semitism were starting to come to the forefront of the world stage is a reminder that horrible things have happened, but it’s important to read about it and we can still learn from the mistakes of the past.
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About Herbert J. Stein
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.
About Alan A. Winters
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.
TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for WOLF: A NOVEL:
Thursday, January 30th: Write – Read – Life
Tuesday, February 4th: Bewitched Bookworms
Wednesday, February 5th: Instagram: @barkingaboutbooks
Thursday, February 6th: Iwriteinbooks’s blog
Friday, February 7th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Monday, February 10th: Instagram: @jenabrownwrites
Tuesday, February 11th: Man of La Book
Wednesday, February 12th: Lit and Life
Thursday, February 20th: Laura’s Reviews
Friday, February 21st: Instagram: @readingmama_reviews
TBD: Friday, January 31st: Booked J