I was very reluctant to read this book. I've had a lifetime of WW2 and Holocaust drama, being born and raised where I have, and have very rarely encountered a related topic that didn't touch the "Final Solution." So I read the premise of UtU and decided to give it a shot.
Not sorry at all. The story is about an intel operation during the final year of the war that went sour.
Hagen Friedrich, and SS officer, asked to accompany his brother Siegfried, a Wehrmacht (Germany army forces) officer and his team on a mission commissioned by a very high ranking person. They are eliminated encounter with an Allied forces team and Sieg is taken hostage for questioning by American soldiers, only to die right before being rescued by Hagen, who parachuted a distance away and tracked them down.
John Nicholls is the American officer in charge of questioning Sieg and determining the purpose of the Wehrmacht forces on their way to a neutral territory, but he dies almost upon arrival to the camp. And then.... Hagen is captured. <--- this is the story in a nutshell and also where I stop talking about the plot.
I very much love that I can't really describe the characters' physicality. I can say that Hagen (and his brother) are very much Aryan, blonde, fair skinned bright blue eyes and with sharp angled face. However, I can't for the life of me, think of John's physical description apart from his features being darker (eyes, hair).
What I can say is that Hagen is very protective, loyal, logical and sensitive. He is very young and naive, as well. And this allowed John to get through to him. I genuinely felt sorry for Hagen (me, sympathizing with a nazi!!) when he realized some things about himself, his brother and his allegiance.
John on the other hand is more mature and while part of the other side fighting the war, he comes across as objective, even when in some parts his feelings are probably interfering with his decision making. They are both great characters, very compelling and I found myself rooting for them the entire time.
War is ugly, and WW2 was probably the ugliest in the history of the world. This is why I was very happy to read this book, that showed a different side of things. I can't imagine what would have happened if this story took place a year or two prior. I'm pretty sure it would've ended a lot differently.
I believe this is my first Aleksandr Voinov/L.A. Witt book I've read and it's not going to be my last.