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' A big, startling historical novel bursting with material and emotional life' Sunday Times 'A highly literary novel... A profoundly impressive piece of work' Guardian 'Tremendous pace and readability ... the author marshals a thousand quiet details to give these lives their complex due' Independent 'A gripping, vibrant story ... Authenticity rings throughout this impressive epic' City Life (Writer of the Year) -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Gebundene Ausgabe .


In 1916 a group of German saboteurs blew up Black Tom Island, a spit of land in New York Harbour. The brazen attack destroyed the harbour and the ammunition housed there - and the subsequent hail of missiles and gunpowder devastated much of lower Manhattan. The attack - so massive that as far away as Maryland people could feel the ground shake - had been shockingly easy. America was littered with networks of German agents plotting further, more deadly, attacks. Twenty years later the German government had still managed to evade responsibility for the crime - and probably would have continued to, were it not for the determination of three lawyers named McCloy, Peaslee, and Martin. These men made it their mission to solve a mystery that began during the first World War and barely ended before the second. They were litigators, spies, historians and, ultimately, defenders of the truth. THE DETONATORS is a fascinating portrait of these men and their time; the dramatic love story of John and Ellen McCloy; and the first full accounting of a crime and a cover-up that resonates strongly in a post-9/11 America. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Gebundene Ausgabe .


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20 von 21 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Don't Judge a Book by its Author 13. August 2006
Von Steve Iaco - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
The title of my review is not meant as an insult to the author. Indeed, I wish to praise him. Whenever I'm intrigued by a book, I'll check out the author's bio on the dust jacket. Chad Millman's credentials: Sports Illustrated, CNNSI, ESPN The Magazine. I thought: What's a guy like this doing writing about history?

My skepticism proved groundless. Millman has produced a well-researched, highly engaging, elegantly written chronicle about the German Fifth columnists who operated in the U.S. prior to America's involvement in WW I. The German sabotage campaign culminated in the explosion of the munitions depot on Black Tom Island in New York Harbor in 1916. Millman vividly re-creates the events that led up to this sordid incident, and the decades-long quest to hold the German government to account for it.

The complex storyline involves a long cast of characters, and the author helpfully publishes a list of them at the outset of the book. One of them, the German military attache who masterminded a counterfeit passport operation, would go on to briefly lead the German government in the waning days of the Weimar Republic. However, the most famous of Black Tom's characters is John McCloy, the intrepid lawyer whose indefatigable pursuit of justice (aided by two other attorneys) was a springboard to a prominent role in military intelligence during WW II, as a senior aide to War Secretary Henry Stimson. McCloy was later appointed the first High Commissioner in West Germany after the war, and served as an advisor to Presidents until his death in 1989.

Millman writes in a captivating narrative style that makes "The Detonators" a quick, pleasing read. But I ended the book still wondering how and when he became interested in the long-forgotten Black Tom story. I wish he would have told us.
5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
An easy read but full of errors 9. Juli 2012
Von Dwight Messimer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
The Detonators is an easy read because Chad Millman is a good story-teller, but the book is full of errors in fact. Here are a few examples.
On page 36 Millman describes the meeting between the German spy Franz von Rintelen and Paul G. L. Hilken. According to Millman, von Rintelen "summoned" Hilken to New York where they met in the Ritz Hotel. But according to a report written by Bureau of Investigation, Special Agent William R. Benham on 13 September 1916, Hilken told him that he was in New York on business and staying in the Astor Hotel when Rintelen contacted him by phone. Rintelen came to the Astor and introduced himself, providing a letter of introduction from Captain W. Bartling of the North German Lloyd Company.

On page 56 he writes that in January 1915 Hilken was ordered to report to Berlin by February 1915. Actually the instructions he received came from Karl Stapelfeld who was a Norddeutsche Lloyd director and the General Director of the Deutsche Ozean Reederei, and his instructions were to go to Bremen where the NDL headquarters were located. When he finished there, Stapelfeld sent Hilken to the Deutschebank in Berlin to obtain credits for the establishment of the Eastern Forwarding Company in Baltimore.

On page 58, Millman has Hilken going to the Reichstag wherein, he writes, were located the parliament, war offices, and the publicity and censorship offices. In fact, only the parliament was housed in the Reichstag. Designed by Paul Wallot and dedicated on 5 December 1894, the Reichstag held both chambers; the Reichstag (lower house) and the Bundesrat (upper house). There wasn't enough office space for the legislators in the building much less several other government agencies. While Hilken is in the Reichstag he is told to go to the other side of the building and visit Section Politic, "aka Section IIIb."

On the same page he puts Captain Rudolf Nadolny in charge of the Section Politic, aka "Section IIIb." Section Politic was a sub-unit of Section IIIb, the latter being the German Army Secret Service (Geheimdienst) and a part of the General Staff. The commander of the Geheimdienst was Col. Walter Nicoli, and Capt. Rudolf Nadolny commanded the sub-unit, Section Politic. Rather than being in the Reichstag, Section IIIb was located at Molka Strasse 8.

On page 68 he describes the submarine Deutschland as being 315 feet long, when her actual length was 213.25 feet.

On page 69 he describes the submarine Deutschland's arrival inside the three-mile limit. According to Millman, the Eastern Forwarding Company's tug, Thomas F. Timmins, was there waiting off shore for the submarine when the submarine surfaced alongside the tug. The fact is that on 8 July 1916, the tug had pulled back into the Chesapeake Bay and anchored to give its crew a rest, and the submarine Deutschland was not submerged at any time while she was inside the the three-mile limit. She was trimmed down with her decks awash as she approached the three-mile limit, but once inside, she came all the way up. She crossed the three-mile limit at 2330 on 8 July and at 0200 on 9 July she was received by the pilot boat Relief. The dialogue exchange between Captain Hinsch and Paul Koeng provided in the book never took place. The exchange between the pilot boat and the submarine was, "What ship are you?" and the reply was, "Deutschland, sixteen days out of Bremerhaven." To which the Virginia pilot, Capt. Fred Cocke, is reported to have said, "I'll be damned. Here she is."

And the bit about Hinsch telling Koenig that there had been a change in destination from Norfolk to Baltimore is baseless. The American Consul in Bremen, William Fee, issued a bill of health and certified invoices on 13 June 1916 with the destination clearly spelled out--Baltimore. Paul Koenig knew exactly where he was going.
Dwight R. Messimer
9 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Gripping story of a forgotten episode in our history 15. Juli 2006
Von Michael - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I got this book while on vacation because the cover caught my interst. I ended up not being able to put the book down.

This book describes sabotage episodes that occurred right before the U.S. entry into WWI. Even more, the book gives details of the persistence of efforts between the two world wars to prove that Germany conducted this sabotage.

It is a fascinating portrait of the many characters involved, and a well written account of episodes in our history that I had never heard of before, despite reading quite a bit of history. I recommend this book for anyone who has an interest in history.
6 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Excellent summer reading 1. September 2006
Von PMY - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This is a wonderful read - interesting, relevant and timely, and better than fiction. Millman has struck an excellent balance, weaving facts into a captivating narrative that is a perfect book for relaxed reading. Books like THE DETONATORS should be part of curricula in high school and college history courses because it brings history alive. Impressive that a sports guy can turn such an excellent page-turner.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
"Lawyer Up" 28. April 2010
Von Michael Horn - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Picked this book off a bargain shelf locally not knowing what to expect. As a retired intelligence officer, I scoop up bits and pieces of history; in this case expecting an incomplete or inaccurate picture of Germany's espionage network in the US prior to WWI.

What I got instead both surprised and greatly pleased me. This story makes a great summer time or rainy day book.

As a not so great fan of Woodrow Wilson's assault on the Constitutional rights of US citizens during WWI - I see a slightly different take on a President forced into war by Germany's 'death by a 1,000 cuts'. Between unrestricted submarine warfare; the sinking of the Lusitania - and the Zimmerman letter trying to draw Mexico into a war with the United States - I see how Wilson was pushed into a decision for WAR against Germany!

With such a large German population on the East Coast, New York (Yonkers), New Jersey (Jersey City) and Baltimore, Maryland - it became clear that Wilson had an anti-war and demographic problem siding against the Brits and French and had to start a large propaganda campaign on the American people to wake them up to the German threat. I was very unaware that many Germans living in the United States tried every way possible to return to Germany to serve in the German Army (the US not entering the war till 1917). The resentment of the American Irish against America's ally - England - (because of England's heavy handedness subduing insurrection in their native Ireland) also with huge demographics in the United States weighted heavily on Wilson's treatment of the American population in general. The Alien and Sedition Act came out of Wilson's nervousness with his own citizens.

The US intelligence community in 1916 was a fraction of what is is now - and probably as inept in many areas. Starved for resources - the German government culpability was finally brought to us by British code breakers - and informally at that. Sad to see the lawyers doing their own investigations - now a days done by vast legions of Federal Special Agents.

A fair job of character development - in sequence focusing on the Germans - and the Irish who worked the waterfronts of New York and New Jersey - the haunting characters of the German shipping companies working their secret plans for destruction in the shadow of what would later be the World Trade Center - all combined to climax with an explosion estimated to be 5.5 on the Richter Scale - essentially destroying a major transshipment point loading ammunition for the British and French WWI effort.

The book then shifts to the post WWI era where lawyers struggled with German intransigence blocking the claims of the Lackawanna Railroad who suffered a major portion of the damage at Black Tom. A thorough detailing of the workings of a German American Settlement Board settling WWI claims - makes up the rest of the story; as a worldwide hunt for convincing clues and witnesses by the fledging agency which would later morph into the FBI and the incredable tenacity of individual lawyers and members of the New York City Police Bomb Squad.

From this point on the story is about lawyers, ours, theirs (German) and neutrals - spanning the Atlantic, South America other US locations. Lawyers came and went - died and quit - but one man beat Germany at its own game.

This was a case that spanned 3 decades - outlived lawyers and umpires from both sides and took the legal action from the early Weimar Republic to the days of Hitlers 3rd Reich. Three American Presidents and their State Departments funded the investigation or tried to quash it - and a very successful and very obsessed Philadelphia Lawyer, John McCloy finally perservered - using his reputation on this case to build a career as an advisor to 3 more Presidents and helped shape the US containment policy against Russia during the cold war.

'Dry' in a few spots - even most historians have paid little attention to this footnote of history where almost no reader I know would have any idea of the final outcome.
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