The One Man: The Riveting and Intense Bestselling WWII Thriller Audio CD – Unabridged, 23 August 2016
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- ISBN-13 : 978-1427279866
- ISBN-10 : 9781427279866
- Product Dimensions : 13.08 x 2.71 x 15.29 cm
- Publisher : MacMillan Audio; Unabridged Edition (23 August 2016)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : 1427279861
- Customer Reviews:
The One Man contains many different plots and characters that cross the globe, and narrator Ballerini effortlessly manages the complex story line. All accents are portrayed authentically, with the nuances of each language clearly expressed--American accents are especially crisp and easily stand out from the third-party narration. Given the numerous accents and foreign, scientific, and military terms used, the audio truly enhances the written text. This historical thriller will keep listeners engaged, and although they know how the war ends, they will find themselves on the edge of their seats wondering what happens next. -Booklist[Edoardo Ballerini's] versatile transition between multiple characters will keep you riveted. NJ.com ...a harrowing performance that's riveting and easy to follow. eMissourian.com
About the Author
Edoardo Ballerini is an American writer, director, film producer and actor. He has won many awards for his audiobook narration; within only a few years after beginning his narrating career, he won several AudioFile Earphones Awards for his work, including Stephen Greenblatt's The Swerve: How The World Became Modern, Jodi Picoult's The Storyteller and Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins. He narrated Kenzaburo Oe's Nobel Prize Winning Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids, Joseph Finder's The Moscow Club as well as works by John Edward and Daniel Stashower. In television and film, he is best known for his role in The Sopranos, 24, I Shot Andy Warhol, Dinner Rush and Romeo Must Die. The silky-voiced Ballerini is trained in theater and continues to do much work on stage.
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I read lots and I mean lots of books and normally once I’ve finished a book I move on to the next one no problem, but I found that days later I’m still thinking about this book. I would be the first to say I’m not normally a huge fan of historical fiction but after reading The One Man I would certainly read more books in this genre if they were all of this high standard. This is a story of the human will to survive against all the odds. Nathan Blum escaped from the Polish ghetto by the skin of his teeth. Now, the government wants him to take on the most dangerous assignment of his life and sneak into Auschwitz, on a mission to find and escape with one man Alfred Mendl. What follows is a heart pounding adrenaline fuelled read. It brings to life the horrors that occurred inside the concentration camps. It also shows how strong and courageous man can be when met with evil.
The One Man only contains a small band of characters, but they were so well depicted I found myself immersed in their story, hence the very emotional read. Although Auschwitz is central to the story it was never the authors intention to write the definitive book on it, as he felt the atrocities there have already been well recorded. True to his word Andrew Gross depicts terrible and heartbreakingly realistic scenes, but it never felt gratuitous within the context of the story as they are very much a backdrop to the main story. Although the scenes do make The One Man an emotional and haunting read.
I found my heart racing constantly as the plot progressed, a sign that this was a truly “thrilling” read. Masterfully told The One Man makes for a disturbing and highly emotional read, both gripping and intelligent I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
In this book, we hear of the story of Alfred Mendl’s work, his family and his attempts to leave the country, which obviously fails and results in his being sent to Auschwitz. Having lost his work, and his hope, he befriends young chess prodigy, Leo Wolciek, in the camp. Leo has a wonderful memory and Mendl begins to teach him everything he knows, in the forlorn hope that his knowledge will not be lost. Meanwhile, Leo is invited to play chess with the wife of the Assistant Commander of the camp. At first, this seems to bring him privileges which may keep him alive longer, but being noticed in Auschwitz is never a good thing and Leo is aware that this attention also brings resentment.
Meanwhile, we also have the story of Natham Blum’s life and his adventures, as he attempts to break into Auschwitz and trust that he can get out again. How can he hope to find someone out of the thousands of prisoners and, should Mendl even be alive, will he believe what Blum has to tell him? What is more, the Germans are aware that something is about to happen and Colonel Martin Franke is on Blum’s trail…
This is an exciting read about a mission which constantly changes as Blum has to adapt to circumstances which can hardly be believed, even today. Yes, the author has to add in a few things that perhaps readers may find hard to believe – messages being easily intercepted and the mere fact that Blum could be expected to locate an elderly physicist within the huge concentration camp. However, this is a thriller, not a non-fiction account of events, and the most important thing with a novel is that you should care about the characters. I certainly cared about these and found this an exciting and memorable read.
Anyway, overall the story is well developed and very well written but at the same time I always had that feeling I could tell "what would happen next". There are hardly any really surprising developments. One also has that specific feeling that this story is bound to end on a positive note. It was also written in the stars that, from the moment Mendl meets Leo, and teaches him all he knows on nuclear stuff and things, this is with an obvious purpose, which is confirmed when the finale starts. I also found it a bit hard to believe that, once the Obertsturmbannführer and his team had a clear idea what was happening, that they still were unable to catch them all. Very unlike German intelligence efficiency. The German Kamp Kommandant is also a bit too caricatured, including the cliché of the unhappy wife enjoying the luxury of the villa, but suffering from a lack of love, and of course totally opposed to the Nazi regime, having to endure living in a golden cage is also confirmed as it is in other similar novels. She enjoys her regular chess games with Leo and not surprisingly, she deflowers the boy, also to make a point against her bullying husband.
But it is now up to you, potential reader, to find out how this adventure really ends.
But what keeps annoying me most is the inconsequent use of the proper German language ranks. In one and the same sentence the author is using the Waffen SS rank in German as well as its English equivalent (Obersturmbannführer / Colonel)... Quite irritating... But I accept that it is most likely this won't be an issue with English readers. So, yes, I could recommend this novel, but with the necessary reservations and in the end it didn't leave a lasting impression.
Without giving too much away, the story is set during WW2. At its core, is a plot about a mission to help rescue a brilliant Jewish scientist (Alfred Mendl) who has been sent to Auschwitz concentration camp. It's a bold and very dangerous assignment for intelligence officer Nathan Blum, but if he can successfully get Mendl out and take him to the USA, then the Americans could use the scientist's skills and knowledge to further their atomic weapons program.
The characters in this story are well fleshed out and I never felt that the author insulted my intelligence by introducing scenes that stretched credibility. I like novels that inform as well as entertain and this certainly met both of those requirements. I cannot compare this book to others that have been written by Andrew Gross, however, it's obvious to me that he put his heart and soul into this project, did some serious research and did his very best to stay as true as possible to the actual history around the events described in this book. It's an impressive, compelling story and it's a novel which I highly recommend.
Also find it very difficult to imagine that allied intelligence would send such 'uncoded' messages that the nazis could easily decipher.
I was also dismayed to read on page 236 of the UK paperback version that a certain Reinhart Heydrich was present at a meeting with Reichsfurer Himmler in Berlin in 1944 - Heydrich was assassinated in Prague by Czech agents in 1942, some two years earlier!
A very basic schoolboy error which then tainted the rest of the book for me.
This is the sort of book that will grace those cheap bookseller shops on the high street - definitely not one to be read with any seriousness