SHADOW ENEMIES: Hitler's Secret Terrorist Plot Against the United States

Alex Abella, Author, Scott Gordon, Joint Author . Lyons $24.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-58574-722-1

In 1942, with Americans still on edge after Pearl Harbor, four German-American operatives disembarked from a U-boat and waded ashore, soon melting into the crowds of Manhattan, the first of several teams assigned to blow up manufacturing and transportation centers as well as Jewish-owned department stores in the United States. Novelist and journalist Abella (The Killing of the Saints) and Gordon, commissioner with the Los Angeles County Superior Court and a professor of law at Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles, depict a crew of would-be saboteurs with varying degrees of discipline, experience and dedication to the Nazi cause. Their leader, George Dasch, had lived in the U.S. as a boy, but had drifted from job to job without ever satisfying his grand ambitions. Returning to Germany, he joined the military and was eventually recruited for the terrorist mission in the U.S., despite his ambivalence toward Hitler's National Socialism. Realizing that the Allies would most likely win the war, Dasch eventually turned himself and his co-conspirators in to the FBI, with the thought of making himself a war hero. While the exploits of Dasch, his partners and their sympathetic contacts are fascinating, also engrossing is the U.S. government's handling of the ensuing court case. J. Edgar Hoover, closely involved, knew that his agency's reputation was at stake. President Roosevelt, concerned about the lack of control in a civilian trial, ordered a military tribunal, which eventually ordered the execution of many of the conspirators and several of their sympathizers. Dasch was returned to Germany after the war, where he was greeted as a traitor. By painting these sometimes reluctant and occasionally bumbling terrorists in such vivid detail, the authors have re-created timely and compelling series of events with an immediacy that hits close to home. (Jan.)

FYI: Readers who enjoy this will want to read Agent 146, Erich Gimpel's account of his work as a German saboteur in the U.S. (Forecasts, Nov. 25, 2002).

Reviewed on: 01/06/2003
Release date: 01/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-59228-142-8
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