LAST STOP VIENNA
Nagorski imagines a fascinating alternate ending to Adolf Hitler's ill-fated affair with his niece, Geli, in this fast-moving, riveting debut novel about a naïve young stormtrooper who inadvertently becomes the führer's romantic rival. After losing his brother in WWI, Karl Naumann joins the fledgling vigilante group that eventually becomes Hitler's notorious brownshirts. Despite his delicate appearance, Naumann instantly takes to the violence of the job. Working with Hitler's pamphlet publisher, Otto Strasser, Naumann rises through the ranks, and shortly after meeting Hitler, finds himself chaperoning Hitler's precocious teenage niece during a couple of brief outings. Naumann responds to Geli's playful flirtation; before long he finds himself infatuated, despite his recent marriage. The affair seems innocuous, but when Hitler begins to monopolize his young niece's attention with his twisted erotic demands, Naumann realizes that his life and Geli's are in danger. Naumann's interior monologues can be stiff ("my return to Berlin was not at all as I had envisaged it"), but Nagorski paints a complex portrait of a vengeful young man incapable of resisting his own base impulses, yet ultimately guided by a strong sense of compassion and justice. A former Berlin bureau chief for Newsweek, Nagorski captures the city faithfully, convincingly imagining the to and fro of everyday life in the 1920s. The book offers a fascinating account of the power struggles between Hitler and rival Nazi leaders, but focuses primarily on the small events and individual actions that lay the foundation for Nazi rule. Agent, Marshall Klein.(Jan.)
Forecast:Nagorski's reputation as a journalist—he is the author of two nonfiction titles ( The Birth of Freedom; Reluctant Farewell) and the recipient of two Overseas Press Club awards—should whet interest in his fiction debut.
Release date: 12/01/2002