The Envoy: The Epic Rescue of the Last Jews of Europe in the Desperate Closing Months of World War II

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December 1944. Soviet and German troops fight from house to house in the shattered, corpse-strewn suburbs of Budapest. Crazed Hungarian fascists join with die-hard Nazis to slaughter Jews day and night, turning the Danube blood-red. In less than six months, thirty-eight-year-old SS Colonel Adolf Eichmann has sent over half a million Hungarians to the gas chambers in Auschwitz. Now all that prevents him from liquidating Europe’s last Jewish ghetto is an unarmed Swedish diplomatic...

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In July 1944, thirty-two-year old Sewdish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg arrived in Budapest on a mission to rescue the last Jews of Europe. Over the next six months, he rescued ... thousands of Jews by issuing diplomatic "safe passage" passes and establishing numerous "safe houses" throughout the city. Defying mass murderer Adolf Eichmann, Wallenberg risked his life repeatedly. Tragically, when Budapest was finally liberated by the Soviets, one of the Holocaust's greatest heroes had disappeared into the Soviet gulag; to this day his exact fate is unknown. A riveting rescue story, The Envoy traces the fates of both Eichmann and Wallenberg, but at the heart of this intensely moving saga are several survivors of what has been called "the greatest and most horrible crime committed in the history of the world." Based on the latest documentation from international archives and extenisve interviews with eyewitnesses and survivors. Notes, Bibliography, Index. Illus., b&w photos. 294p. Read more Show Less

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The Envoy: The Epic Rescue of the Last Jews of Europe in the Desperate Closing Months of World War II

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Overview

December 1944. Soviet and German troops fight from house to house in the shattered, corpse-strewn suburbs of Budapest. Crazed Hungarian fascists join with die-hard Nazis to slaughter Jews day and night, turning the Danube blood-red. In less than six months, thirty-eight-year-old SS Colonel Adolf Eichmann has sent over half a million Hungarians to the gas chambers in Auschwitz. Now all that prevents him from liquidating Europe’s last Jewish ghetto is an unarmed Swedish diplomatic envoy named Raoul Wallenberg.

The Envoy is the stirring tale of how one man made the greatest difference in the face of untold evil. The legendary Oscar Schindler saved hundreds, but Raoul Wallenberg did what no other individual or nation managed to do: He saved more than 100,000 Jewish men, women, and children from extermination.

Written with Alex Kershaw’s customary narrative verve, The Envoy is a fast-paced, nonfiction thriller that brings to life one of the darkest and yet most inspiring chapters of twentieth century history. It is an epic for the ages.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

Popular historian Kershaw (Escape from the Deep: A True Story of Courage and Survival During World War II, 2009, etc.) looks at the work of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg and his still mysterious disappearance.

Wallenberg, famously, was the bane of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi general who commanded operations against the Jews of Hungary, always with the eager assistance of members of that country's fascist Arrow Cross Party. At a time when Jews were being deported to the death camps from the region at a rate of 12,000 a day, Wallenberg managed to save as many as 30,000 (the estimates vary widely) by, among other tactics, renting buildings, giving Jews sanctuary there and declaring them Swedish territory and therefore protected by diplomatic immunity. It's easy to see why Wallenberg's activities gave the Nazis and Arrow Cross fits, but Kershaw shows capably and beyond much doubt that Wallenberg died at the hands of the conquering Soviets. Why he was targeted has never been made clear, and the author isn't of much help on that question, beyond noting that the orders may well have come from Joseph Stalin. Of particular interest in Kershaw's measured account is the aftermath: Wallenberg disappeared pretty much in plain view, and there wasn't much doubt that the Soviets took him. Even so, fellow Swedish diplomat Dag Hammarskjold, who became secretary general of the United Nations, declined to press the investigation into the Gulag, saying, "I do not want to begin World War Three because of one missing person." Kershaw capably builds plausible scenarios, drawing on recently released archives, wondering rightly as he does why Wallenberg's story is less well known than that of Oskar Schindler, who "saved far fewer people and in any case profited from their forced labor."

The life of a courageous, righteous man well told.

From the Publisher
Booklist, July 2010
“From a best-selling and vibrant writer, the compelling story of how a Swedish diplomat saved 100,000 Hungarian Jews from deportation to the death camps. Many books have been called major contributions to Holocaust literature, but in this case, the claim is true.”

Kirkus Reviews, 9/1/10
“The life of a courageous, righteous man well told.”
 

Booklist, 10/1/10
“A tense, fast-moving narrative that shows Wallenberg as a match for Eichmann in intelligence and determination as he utilized fake documents, safe houses, and a variety of other methods to save thousands of Jewish lives. This is an inspiring story that illustrates how one dedicated human can make an impact, even against a monstrous tyranny.”
 
WWII Magazine
“The entwined tales of Raoul Wallenberg and Adolf Eichmann, revisited with new research and this best-selling writer’s narrative flair.”
 

New YorkJournal of Books, 10/29/10 
“Kershaw dramatically pulls the reader into the diabolical campaign of Adolf Eichmann…With the nail-biting suspense of a winning novelist, Kershaw uses solid research and anecdotal data to show how it felt to be just one step ahead of the SS … Alex Kershaw has delivered a masterpiece about Raul Wallenberg, as witnessed from every perspective.”
 

WomenAroundTown.com, 11/11/10
“[Y]ou must read everything you can find by Alex Kershaw.”

Library Journal
, 11/11/10

“An interesting conjunction of two World War II figures, one heroic and one evil, this will most interest general readers just starting to study the Holocaust, although some of Kershaw's details will also interest specialists.”\
 

BostonSunday Globe, 11/14/10
“A historical account as vivid and suspenseful as any thriller.”
 
The National, 11/2/10
The Envoy is framed as a suspense narrative in which the outcome is already foretold—a mystery whose hero is also its victim. This is a perilous tack to take with the story of a secular saint like Wallenberg, but one that proves successful for Kershaw, who is more storyteller than philosopher.”
 

Daily Herald, 12/5/10
“Kershaw’s wisely understated prose allows these horrific events to speak powerfully for themselves. One leaves the narrative with equal parts regard for Wallenberg’s honor, determination and sacrifice, and sorrow at his demise.”
 
Examiner.com, 12/4/10
‘“Best-selling author Kershaw dramatically pulls the reader into the diabolical campaign of Adolf Eichmann to send more than 250,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz. With the nail-biting suspense of a winning novelist, Kershaw uses solid research and anecdotal data to show how it felt to be just one step ahead of the SS and their cruel Hungarian proxies, the Arrow Cross…The Envoy is a brilliant examination of the rescue of Hungarian Jews near the end of the Holocaust, led by the brave Swiss diplomat, Raul Wallenberg.  Kershaw gives the reader a fiery collection of facts as explained in detail by survivors and records, woven into a thrilling and detailed account of Wallenberg’s courageous efforts to save thousands Jewish families from certain death…Kershaw’s brilliant effort is one that should be read by everyone who values freedom, tolerance and liberty…Alex Kershaw has delivered a masterpiece about Raul Wallenberg, as witnessed from every perspective. “
 
NorfolkVirginian-Pilot, 1/2/11
“A riveting account of Wallenberg’s efforts. Kershaw pits Wallenberg’s tenacity against the blood lust of his archnemesis, Hilter’s angel of death, Adolf Eichmann…Kershaw also profiles the lives of several Jews who were swept up in war and struggled to survive. He skillfully weaves their stories, gleaned from interviews…and puts a human face on its terrible drama…Extensive footnotes reflect the depth of Kershaw’s research and skillful use of quotes from the principal actors involved in this unforgettable story.”
 
ProvidenceJournal, 1/23/11
“A harrowing book.”
 
Shepherd Express, 1/24/11
“What Alex Kershaw adds to the conversation are his own interviews with some of the people Wallenberg saved.”

Jewish Book World
Much like an adventure story, at times impossible to put down….The Envoy is well-written, thoroughly researched, and an engaging book to read.”

BuffaloJewish Review, 7/8/11
“The story is set forth here with considerable authenticity in a style that grips the reader’s attention and that vividly reminds us of a hero who deserves continuing universal recognition.”

ColumbusDaily Reporter, 7/5/11 “Describes in well-written detail how Wallenberg and a group of people he recruited stood up to the Germans, issuing false Swedish papers to Jews whom Eichmann had planned to eliminate.”

The Jewish Advocate, July 2011 “[A] lively account of Wallenberg’s life.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306815577
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 10/26/2010
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.88 (w) x 11.28 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

Alex Kershaw is the author of seven books, including the widely acclaimed bestsellers The Bedford Boys, The Longest WinterThe Few, and Escape from the Deep. He lives in Massachusetts.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 9

Map of Hungary, 1944 12

Map of Budapest, 1944 13

Part 1 The Final Solution

1 Wannsee 17

2 On the Run 24

3 Mauthausen 37

4 The Last Refuge 47

Part 2 Darkness at Noon

5 Escape from Auschwitz 73

6 The Cruelest Summer 83

7 The Swedish Pimpernel 95

8 The Majestic Hotel 113

9 Operation Panzerfaust 150

Part 3 Red Danube

10 The Arrow Cross 175

11 The Road to Hegyeshalom 183

12 Dinner with Eichmann 204

13 December 1944 224

14 The Inferno 238

Part 4 The Cold War

15 Liberation 279

16 The Fall 293

17 Lost Hero 303

18 Brave New Worlds 319

19 Going After the "Master" 335

20 The Wallenberg Mystery 359

21 The Last Survivors 379

Appendix 393

Losses of Hungarian Jews During World War II 394

Notes 397

Bibliography 467

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 29 )
Rating Distribution

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(22)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    How to Make a Difference in a World Where Indifference Reigned Supreme

    Alex Kershaw succeeds in turning a tragedy into a thriller that keeps his readers on the edge of their seats. Kershaw's gift of gab is remarkable because he manages to enthrall many people who already have some familiarity with the life and mission of Raoul Wallenberg before even perusing through his book. Kershaw focuses most of his narrative on the implacable duel opposing Wallenberg who tried to save with the help of others as many (Hungarian) Jews as possible to Adolf Eichmann and his fascist followers who were determined to liquidate any Jew falling in their hands. In summary, "The Envoy" is a quick read that is not a comprehensive biography of Wallenberg.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 12, 2013

    Truly fascinating tale of Swedish Diplomat saving many lives at

    Truly fascinating tale of Swedish Diplomat saving many lives at end of WWII, very well written, learned a lot, fun to read, it was difficult to put this book down, read it in one sitting, this author is the best WWII writer I have ever encountered, very much recommend this book.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 9, 2013

    Wonderfully spun, involved a Swedish diplomat in Hungary towards

    Wonderfully spun, involved a Swedish diplomat in Hungary towards end of WWII, very inspiring wisdowm. Timeless classic, eternally grateful to the author Alex Kershaw for providing me with this book-information! Distilled the wisdowm of WWII, made it pertinent to reader. Very well written, great book, this author is superb.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 5, 2013

    Swedish diplomat saves jews at end of WW2, very interesting read

    Swedish diplomat saves jews at end of WW2, very interesting read. Found the author to focus on the topic to cover a wide range of WW2 history, put forth in an entertainng manner. Alex Kershaw makes the reader feel as if they are a true participant in these historical event(s). Very well written, exciting, insightful. Great book.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2013

    A spark can start a blaze! This book illustrates how one person

    A spark can start a blaze! This book illustrates how one persons actions can change the world! Most uplifting book I have ever read, should be required reading for any human on Earth! The guy who wrote this book is an incredible writer! The acts of our daily lives do have consequences for good or ill, this book highlights this concept! It follows the action of one man from Sweden who saves many thousands of lives though diplomacy (jews from being killed fom Nazis Adolf Eichmann). This is one the best books I have ever written, highly recommend it to anyone who want to be inspired in life, learn about world history! FIVE STAR QUALITY, best bookI have read in a long, long time!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 17, 2013

    Preeminent tale of survival during ending of WWII. Alex Kershaw

    Preeminent tale of survival during ending of WWII. Alex Kershaw is very exclusive in his research, presentation of facts, very good story of diplomacy, WWII ending in his nonfction novel. Very good story, fresh perspective on some historys' most important events, timeltime. Two thumbs WAY-WAY up!

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 14, 2013

    Alex Kerhaw wins again! Excellent book about Swedish diplomats'

    Alex Kerhaw wins again! Excellent book about Swedish diplomats' effort to save Jews at end of WWII. This book was very inspiring, highly recommend this book. Very good.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 7, 2013

    EXQUITSITE book. Tiptop learning experience, great read.

    EXQUITSITE book. Tiptop learning experience, great read.

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2013

    MUST HAVE! Very good book. Alex Kershaw is an incredible write

    MUST HAVE! Very good book. Alex Kershaw is an incredible writer, the best world war two writer alive today.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2013

    Excellent book! I loved reading it, very inspiring, very well wr

    Excellent book! I loved reading it, very inspiring, very well written! Alex Kershaw is an incredible writer!

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 5, 2013

    Superb book.

    Superb book.

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 7, 2013

    Diplomat's effors to save Jewish prisoners in Europe at end of W

    Diplomat's effors to save Jewish prisoners in Europe at end of WWII, very sad book, but very insightful -- learned a lot.

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2013

    Exceptional book. Five star is only beginning how good it was.

    Exceptional book. Five star is only beginning how good it was. Great read.

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2012

    FASCINATING

    FASCINATING

    2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 10, 2013

    Swedish man, diplomat... his efforts to save the lives of Jewish

    Swedish man, diplomat... his efforts to save the lives of Jewish prisoners at the end of WWII. good book.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2013

    Pleasent surprise, good writing.

    Pleasent surprise, good writing.

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 13, 2013

    GREAT BOOK!

    GREAT BOOK!

    1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2013

    Well written.

    Well written.

    1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2013

    Alex Kershaw is a gifted writer, this book was excellent. Highl

    Alex Kershaw is a gifted writer, this book was excellent. Highly recommend.

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2013

    GOOD

    GOOD

    0 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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