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  • 1 person found this review helpful

    1 people found this review helpful

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    POW in the US in WWII?? Wow!

    WAR, SPIES & BOBBY SOX: STORIES ABOUT WORLD WAR II AT HOME by Libby Fischer Hellman is a trio of historical stories about the effect of war on the home front. WWII has always been a fascinating topic to me but it was all about the battlefields, Hitler, and my mother’s and grandmother’s innocent home front stories about rationing and volunteering and writing letters to “our boys.” It certainly was not about spies or secret meetings or POW camps down the road from us in Illinois. The author writes that WWII was the last time there was such clarity between good and evil. I agree, but as I read these three stories, that clarity became a little blurry. These stories aren’t about fighting in some far off land, but rather about individuals that could have been our neighbors – or us – and what happens when difficult decisions have to be made and that line between good and evil isn’t quite so clear. What if a German refugee was forced to spy on the early years of the Manhattan Project in Chicago? What if an inexperienced, unsatisfied young farm girl finds herself in close proximity to men she should not be drawn to? What if suspicious events are happening in your own neighborhood but the word espionage isn’t even part of your vocabulary and you don’t know what these events mean or what, if anything, you should do about them? I have long been a fan of Libby Fischer Hellman’s work so I had high expectations for this compilation and I was not disappointed. The Incidental Spy was, in fact, the first story I read by her and it was just as powerful and compelling this time around. Lena’s life is hard. She is forced to leave her home, her parents, and her love in Nazi Germany to live in safety with her aunt in the United States. She does eventually settle in to her new home, and finds rewarding, meaningful work, and love again. Life is good. But things don’t always go as we wish and Lena still has more to endure. She is a strong, resourceful woman and she is determined to survive whatever life throws her way, but it’s not easy. She has to make some tough choices, and Libby Fischer Hellman builds the suspense and keeps us wondering until the very end. POW showed a side effect of the war that most of us probably never even realized existed. Even though her father is away fighting and those are actual POWs in the nearby camp, Mary Catherine is just a young girl helping her mother. The war isn’t a part of her everyday life. This story is about feelings and possible actions and consequences. Again, very powerful and compelling. The last story in the trio, The Day Miriam Hirsch Disappeared, takes place in the late ‘30s as the country geared up to fight Hitler. Espionage surrounds the disappearance of an actress from the thriving Jewish community of Chicago’s Lawndale, but the main characters, Jacob and Barney, are like the rest of us and don’t have any perspective for events they think they understand but really do not. Very thought provoking and more than a little scary. The stories may be short, but the characters are well developed and believable, and even though there are no tanks or machine guns or bombers there are battlefields, as well as suspense and tragedy. The stories open your eyes and make you think and will stay in your mind. I highly recommend this book along with everything else Libby Fischer Hellman has written. I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review but I also purchased a copy for my library.
  • 1 person found this review helpful

    1 people found this review helpful

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    One of the best of its kind.

    I received this book as an ARC. Hellman has, as with all her work, produced stories that are well written, researched, and easy to get into. I've read many works about WWII and this ranks at the top of my list.

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