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Jones enhances his developing reputation as a writer on the Third Reich with this compelling, fast-paced account of the July 20 conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler (its code name publicized by the release of Tom Cruise's latest movie). While up-to-date on the latest scholarship, the book succeeds admirably in presenting for a general audience not only the doomed course of Operation Valkyrie but its background: the failures of other assassination plots, the difficulties of organizing resistance in a totalitarian state, the desperate courage of the men and women who risked their lives. From the charismatic Count Claus von Stauffenberg down, the conspirators belonged to the German establishment. Their plan was for a coup to supplant Nazism with a civil-military government under the rule of law and end a war that was destroying Germany physically and morally. Jones traces the plot's unfolding and unraveling, first day by day, then hour by hour. Hitler's survival condemned the conspirators to an obscene vengeance. Their heroic sacrifice, says Jones, "snatched the soul of their tortured country from the pit-and saved it." Photos, map. (Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.