The Lone Assassin: The Epic True Story of the Man Who Almost Killed Hitler

Helmut Ortner, trans. from the German by Ross Benjamin. Skyhorse (Norton, dist.), $24.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-61608-383-0

In this book (originally published in Germany in 1993), freelance writer and author Ortner methodically lays out the story of Georg Elser, the carpenter who attempted to assassinate Hitler in 1939, courtesy of a bomb in the Munich Beer Hall. Starting with Elser’s capture at the Swiss border before leaping back in time to thoroughly explore the underpinnings of the event, Ortner examines Elser’s life as well as covering the conditions that led to Hitler’s rise to power, including the 1923 failed coup that made the Munich Beer Hall so symbolic to the Nazi regime. Often dispassionate, though occasionally given to purple prose, this is perhaps as thorough a study of the people involved and significance of the events as can be constructed, including the aftermath of the bombing and Elser’s death at Dachau near the end of the war. By following Elser’s trail of failed relationships, frequent job changes, and reserved, meticulous nature, we can understand how this one man came so close to changing the course of history. The research is solid and the writing accessible, making this an easy read for casual and scholarly readers alike. Agent: Jennifer Lyons, Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency. (July)