The List

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Overview

Martin Fletcher has captivated television audiences for thirty-five years as a foreign correspondent for NBC News. Now, Fletcher combines his own family’s history with meticulous research in this gripping story of a young Jewish family struggling to stay afloat after World War II.

London, October 1945.  Austrian refugees Georg and Edith await the birth of their first child. Yet how can they celebrate when almost every day brings news of another relative or friend murdered ...

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The List: A Novel

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Overview

Martin Fletcher has captivated television audiences for thirty-five years as a foreign correspondent for NBC News. Now, Fletcher combines his own family’s history with meticulous research in this gripping story of a young Jewish family struggling to stay afloat after World War II.

London, October 1945.  Austrian refugees Georg and Edith await the birth of their first child. Yet how can they celebrate when almost every day brings news of another relative or friend murdered in the Holocaust? Their struggle to rebuild their lives is further threatened by growing anti-Semitism in London's streets; Englishmen want to take homes and jobs from Jewish refugees and give them to returning servicemen.

Edith's father is believed to have survived, and finding him rests on Georg's shoulders. Then Georg learns of a plot by Palestinian Jews to assassinate Britain’s foreign minister. Georg must try to stop the murder, all the while navigating a city that wants to "eject the aliens."

In The List, Fletcher investigates an ignored and painful chapter in London’s history. The novel is both a breathless thriller of postwar sabotage and a heartrending and historically accurate portrait of an almost forgotten era. In this sensitive, deeply touching, and impossible-to-forget story, Martin Fletcher explores the themes of hope, prejudice, loss and love that make up the lives of all refugees everywhere.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In NBC special correspondent Fletcher’s satisfactory first novel, Viennese Jewish refugees Edith and Georg Fleischer build their new life in 1945 London while Zionist revolutionaries plot an assassination that could jeopardize all asylum seekers in Britain. Living in a Hampstead boarding house, the Fleischers are expecting their first child while waiting to hear news of their relatives (most of whom perished in concentration or death camps) and find out whether they can stay in Britain. Edith’s cousin Anna arrives, but her time at Auschwitz has changed her almost beyond recognition. After Edith makes a speech at a meeting about repatriation petitions, Georg becomes a target for retribution. The mysterious Ismael, an Egyptian Arab living at the boarding house, steps in to protect Georg, beginning an unlikely alliance. Meanwhile, in Palestine, the Lehi—a group considered to be freedom fighters, or terrorists, take your pick—plot to force out the British and open the border to any Jews who wish to enter. There are jarring shifts in point of view and shallow descriptions, but the novel’s warmth and humor will have readers rooting for the Fleischers and the neighbors who, in the wake of horror, become their new family. (Oct.)
Booklist
“Thorn charts the fates of the main characters through expert pacing and inflections that demonstrate his involving sensibility. An evocative and haunting novel.”
Booklist
From the Publisher
“Thorn charts the fates of the main characters through expert pacing and inflections that demonstrate his involving sensibility. An evocative and haunting novel.”
Booklist

“A compelling novel that springs to life with David Thorn’s superb performance.”
AudioFile [Earphones Award Winner]

Kirkus Reviews
Having fled the Nazis, a young Austrian couple in 1945 London discovers that for Jews like them, the war did not end with VE Day. While they desperately seek word on the possible survival or whereabouts of family members sent to concentration camps, petitions are being signed by anti-Semitics in their neighborhood of Hampstead to "send the aliens home"—ostensibly to clear space and jobs for returning British soldiers.

Veteran NBC correspondent Fletcher's engrossing first novel, loosely based on his parents' story, captures a neglected piece of postwar history through the plight of the spirited Edith, who is seven months pregnant with her first child following a miscarriage, and Georg, a reserved lawyer reduced to making buttons for a living. When Edith's first cousin Anna unexpectedly arrives, traumatized by her time in Auschwitz, she raises hope, however dim, that other relatives will follow, maybe even Edith's father. It's a time when the horrific truths of the camps are not yet widely known or understood—and when lies about Jews, including the notion they have any "home" to return to—are passed off as truth. Drawn to Ismael, an Egyptian Arab who despite his seeming antagonism toward Jews has a habit of coming to their rescue, Anna slowly emerges from her personal darkness. The lightly veiled truth is that Ismael is actually Israel, part of a secret plot to assassinate British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin for his part in the blockade to limit the number of Jews allowed into Palestine. Fletcher (Walking Israel, 2010, etc.) is more convincing as a domestic observer than a spy/political-thriller writer. As fact-based asthis book may be, the narrative is a bit too neatly tied up and cozy with coincidence for the novel to gain as much traction as it could have. But this is still a powerful, affecting work.

A post-Holocaust novel that should be required reading wherever lessons about the plight of modern-day European Jews are taught.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250012845
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 10/2/2012
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 340,502
  • Product dimensions: 5.62 (w) x 8.04 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

MARTIN FLETCHER is one of the most respected television news correspondents in the world and he is also rapidly gaining an equally impressive reputation as a writer. He has won many awards, including five Emmys, a Columbia University DuPont Award, several Overseas Press Club Awards, and the National Jewish Book Award. Fletcher and his wife, Hagar, have raised three sons. He spent many years as the NBC News Bureau Chief in Tel Aviv and he is currently based in Israel and New York, where he is a Special Correspondent for NBC News

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Read an Excerpt

Anna had been in London a week and hadn’t left the house. She said she was cold but they knew that wasn’t it. There were no secrets when three people slept in one bed. Anna’s groans, her gasps, the moans and sighs, like a whimpering kitten, the sudden turning: they could feel her lying awake, sense her anguish, and when Edith asked if she was asleep, Anna would turn around and not answer. Georg would try the sofa but it was too short. Edith would try next but the sofa was too narrow for her belly which she supported with a pillow. Whenever Anna offered to sleep on the sofa, they wouldn’t let her. So they slept together in the crowded bed and the springs creaked and the mattress rose and fell as Anna tossed and turned. When she did sleep, she mumbled and called out. They tried, but could never understand a word. In the morning she was soaked in sweat.

            If Anna was haunted by what she knew, Edith was tormented by what she didn’t know; her sleep was almost as restless. She fidgeted and squirmed and holding Georg’s hand would squeeze so hard it hurt. She dreamed of her father most nights, and if she didn’t have dreams about him, she dreamed of the baby. Mostly she sensed the pain of birth: pushing and squeezing of her organs, the effort. She couldn’t remember the details, just the finality of it, the end of waiting, the end of a journey, the new beginning, but somehow the baby dreams merged with her father dreams, one roiling mixed image of pain, helplessness, waiting and, above all, hoping, that Papi would come, that the baby would come, and that all would be good again, all together.

            Georg slept well. For him, it was easier. He knew. He had been the first of everyone to find out. Gassed in Maydanek. The whole family. He didn’t want to know what ‘gassed’ really meant, what terrible things happened on the way to being ‘gassed.’ What a word. But at least it was over. He didn’t have the anguish of not knowing, the torment of waiting, for a phone, a letter, a rumor, searching the lists. Some refugees had joined aid groups so they could look for survivors themselves. A soldier had found his own mother in Bergen-Belsen. One refugee with enough money for a rail ticket had returned to his family home in Vienna and been chased away by Austrians living in it. He asked if any other relatives had shown up. They shouted and threatened to kill him if he came back.

            Hundreds of thousands of refugees were looking for millions of relatives all over Europe. They were learning too slowly who was alive and who was dead. But Georg knew his family’s fate, and while what he knew could not have been worse, now at least he could think of his future, not only his past. Others were frozen, in limbo, paralysed by not knowing. For them the present was just a way-station between the past and the future. Georg’s whole focus now was the future, starting again, with the baby.

            He was scared for Edith though. Ever since Anna had told her that Papi may still be alive, she had been crazed, had called everywhere: the Red Cross, the Austrian Center, the Association of Jewish Refugees, Bloomsbury House, Woburn House, the Quakers, the British army information center and the American army public information office, and all gave the same answer: fill out the tracing forms, and wait. There is nothing else to do. When the Americans and the British liberated concentration camps they had listed the names of all the survivors and were slowly matching their names with other family members across Europe and in America. But the Russians kept no records, just opened the gates, and the survivors trickled out and drifted off as best they could. Anna was the first to return, a living phantom.

         But where was Papi? Anna said he had been sick; that was nine months ago; by now he must be better. He was a soldier, a doctor, if anybody could survive, he could. But then why hadn’t he been in touch, why hadn’t he found them? One call to the Red Cross and they would have traced her. Why hadn’t he done that? Where was Papi? Many Jews had been hauled off to Russian jails, maybe he was a prisoner? Was he sick somewhere, had he lost his memory, did he need help? She had written to a Christian friend in Vienna asking him to visit the house, to see if anybody was there or if the neighbors knew anything.

            Edith lay on her back next to Anna, staring at the ceiling. They were both silent, and sleepless, their minds racing. Edith squeezed Georg’s hand so hard he winced.

     *      

Anna had been in London a week and hadn’t left the house. She said she was cold but they knew that wasn’t it. There were no secrets when three people slept in one bed. Anna’s groans, her gasps, the moans and sighs, like a whimpering kitten, the sudden turning: they could feel her lying awake, sense her anguish, and when Edith asked if she was asleep, Anna would turn around and not answer. Georg would try the sofa but it was too short. Edith would try next but the sofa was too narrow for her belly which she supported with a pillow. Whenever Anna offered to sleep on the sofa, they wouldn’t let her. So they slept together in the crowded bed and the springs creaked and the mattress rose and fell as Anna tossed and turned. When she did sleep, she mumbled and called out. They tried, but could never understand a word. In the morning she was soaked in sweat.

            If Anna was haunted by what she knew, Edith was tormented by what she didn’t know; her sleep was almost as restless. She fidgeted and squirmed and holding Georg’s hand would squeeze so hard it hurt. She dreamed of her father most nights, and if she didn’t have dreams about him, she dreamed of the baby. Mostly she sensed the pain of birth: pushing and squeezing of her organs, the effort. She couldn’t remember the details, just the finality of it, the end of waiting, the end of a journey, the new beginning, but somehow the baby dreams merged with her father dreams, one roiling mixed image of pain, helplessness, waiting and, above all, hoping, that Papi would come, that the baby would come, and that all would be good again, all together.

            Georg slept well. For him, it was easier. He knew. He had been the first of everyone to find out. Gassed in Maydanek. The whole family. He didn’t want to know what ‘gassed’ really meant, what terrible things happened on the way to being ‘gassed.’ What a word. But at least it was over. He didn’t have the anguish of not knowing, the torment of waiting, for a phone, a letter, a rumor, searching the lists. Some refugees had joined aid groups so they could look for survivors themselves. A soldier had found his own mother in Bergen-Belsen. One refugee with enough money for a rail ticket had returned to his family home in Vienna and been chased away by Austrians living in it. He asked if any other relatives had shown up. They shouted and threatened to kill him if he came back.

            Hundreds of thousands of refugees were looking for millions of relatives all over Europe. They were learning too slowly who was alive and who was dead. But Georg knew his family’s fate, and while what he knew could not have been worse, now at least he could think of his future, not only his past. Others were frozen, in limbo, paralysed by not knowing. For them the present was just a way-station between the past and the future. Georg’s whole focus now was the future, starting again, with the baby.

            He was scared for Edith though. Ever since Anna had told her that Papi may still be alive, she had been crazed, had called everywhere: the Red Cross, the Austrian Center, the Association of Jewish Refugees, Bloomsbury House, Woburn House, the Quakers, the British army information center and the American army public information office, and all gave the same answer: fill out the tracing forms, and wait. There is nothing else to do. When the Americans and the British liberated concentration camps they had listed the names of all the survivors and were slowly matching their names with other family members across Europe and in America. But the Russians kept no records, just opened the gates, and the survivors trickled out and drifted off as best they could. Anna was the first to return, a living phantom.

         But where was Papi? Anna said he had been sick; that was nine months ago; by now he must be better. He was a soldier, a doctor, if anybody could survive, he could. But then why hadn’t he been in touch, why hadn’t he found them? One call to the Red Cross and they would have traced her. Why hadn’t he done that? Where was Papi? Many Jews had been hauled off to Russian jails, maybe he was a prisoner? Was he sick somewhere, lost his memory, did he need help? She had written to a Christian friend in Vienna asking him to visit the house, to see if anybody was there or if neighbors knew anything.

            Edith lay on her back next to Anna, staring at the ceiling. They were both silent, and sleepless, their minds racing. Edith squeezed Georg’s hand so hard he winced.

     *      

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Customer Reviews

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( 23 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 24, 2011

    Absolutely spot on

    I grew up in this part of London with parents and Grandmothers who fled Germany before WW2. Dorice and Cosmo were where I spent time with them. I recall my family getting confirmation until 1971 of relatives not having survived the Shoah. Reading this book was like reading my own history though my family were fortunately not so impoverished. The writer captures the sense of hope and then desperation and finally acceptance of the inevitable. I thought it was a great read.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2012

    Gripping

    So sad but saved from being another awful wwii tragedy by good characters and a driving force to move forward from despair to hope. Not an easy feat given the subject matter.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2012

    Has depth

    Not a light weight but an excellent book about WWII highly recommended

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2012

    Touching, historically accurate read.

    I read this novel for my book club and worried it was supposed to be something "life changing"... something Tusdays w/ Mauryish. It was not. Simply written, unassuming, very human. It was at times heartberaking, and I found myself stirred up and indignant over some of the happenings. All in all a very nice novel for anyone fond of history,Jewish affairs, or stories about the love a family has for one another.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2012

    A Must Read

    Martin Fletcher takes us to the problems the survivors face after WWII ends. He emphasizes the anti-semitism that exists in England and the on-going problems in Israel. It's wonderfully written and enlightening. Anyone interested in history and human rights will love this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2012

    A book you will not forget

    The List is a book you will never forget. Most people are under the impression that once WWII was over, everyone was allowed to go home, and start all over with respect and help. That is not the truth, and it is sad that we have to wait all these years to find out what really happened. People who lost every thing and everyone in their family, there was no home to go back to, and not being wanted any where, and yet it is expected that they start over with nothing, but scars and memories of what Germany did. They were not even allowed to go to their own country. In the end, at least there was hope for this couple, and through agonizing work, hope and prejudice, they were able to accomplish one thing that everyone in this world is entitled too...LIFE! We all need to embrace each other no matter race, religion or creed, and just maybe we wouldn't be having wars that ruin lives. By saving one person, we may be saving one race or nationality and bring peace to the world. Well done Mr. Fletcher!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2011

    Great account of post war experience

    Very good read. Poignant& engaging

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2011

    Such a great story

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