Nella Bielski, Author, John Berger, Translator, Lisa Appignanesi, Translator , trans. from the French by John Berger and Lisa Appignanesi. Pantheon $18.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-375-42286-7

Karl Bazinger, a Wehrmacht officer stationed in occupied Paris on a "deluxe tourist trip, paid for by the Führer," is sheltered from the cruelty of WWII at the opening of Ukrainian playwright and novelist Bielski's latest book. Surrounding himself with bohemian luminaries and eccentrics, the seductive and sophisticated Bazinger spends much of his time enjoying France, women and the occasional literary debate. Life becomes complicated when Karl's musings on the dubiousness of the German victory attract the attention of the SS, and grows even more so with a visit from Hans Bielenberg, an old friend likely involved in resistance activities. After a short trip home to Germany, a transfer to Kiev exposes Karl to the harsh realities of Hitler's regime; his visits to an underground Russian doctor, Katia, allow him a brief respite from the war's ravages. Bielski does a remarkable job of capturing the atmosphere in Paris, Saxony and Kiev during the war, but a plethora of characters and backstories muddle the plot and draw attention, and interest, away from Karl and his conflicted allegiance to his fatherland. The result can be frustrating, but Bielski's effort is intriguing, and this is a good book for readers interested in a more intimate view of WWII. (Dec. 1)

Reviewed on: 10/04/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
Paperback - 207 pages - 978-1-4000-7664-2
Open Ebook - 96 pages - 978-0-307-42964-3
Hardcover - 224 pages - 978-0-7475-7103-2
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