A Castle in Wartime: One Family, Their Missing Sons, and the Fight To Defeat the Nazis

Viking. Oct. 2019. 480p. illus. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9780525559290. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780525559306. HIST
Using private family archives, oral histories, and primary sources in a multitude of languages, historian Bailey (The Secret Rooms) adroitly brings together the chaos, pathos, and unpredictability of life within the increasingly panicked and fanatical Nazi terror machine. This book encompasses the shared experience of many upper-class Sippenhäftlinge, whose family members were deemed the worst traitors and enemies of the state by Hitler, and whose fates lay in the hands of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, who had his own secret agenda. As with Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts, Bailey allows the primary sources to blend almost seamlessly into the story while her writing elevates the voice of German author Fey von Hassell’s recitation of her harrowing ordeal. Bailey’s exhaustively researched work addresses von Hassell’s journey from every angle while also addressing the actions, motives, and perceptions of those she encounters across both fronts of the war and in Italy.
VERDICT An incredibly sweeping and readable tale, this excellent history is for readers interested in World War II and personal narratives
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