My Father's Secret War: A Memoir

( 23 )

Overview

In this moving and compelling memoir about parent and child, father and daughter, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lucinda Franks discovers that the remote, nearly impassive man she grew up with had in fact been a daring spy behind enemy lines in World War II. Sworn to secrecy, he began revealing details of his wartime activities only in the last years of his life as he became afflicted with Alzheimer’s. His exploits revealed a man of remarkable bravado -- posing as a Nazi guard, slipping behind enemy lines to blow ...
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Overview

In this moving and compelling memoir about parent and child, father and daughter, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lucinda Franks discovers that the remote, nearly impassive man she grew up with had in fact been a daring spy behind enemy lines in World War II. Sworn to secrecy, he began revealing details of his wartime activities only in the last years of his life as he became afflicted with Alzheimer’s. His exploits revealed a man of remarkable bravado -- posing as a Nazi guard, slipping behind enemy lines to blow up ammunition dumps, and being flown to one of the first concentration camps liberated by the Allies to report on the atrocities found there.

My Father’s Secret War is an intimate account of Franks coming to know her own father after years of estrangement. Looking back at letters he had written her mother in the early days of WWII, Franks glimpses a loving man full of warmth. But after the grimmest assignments of the war his tone shifts, settling into an all-too-familiar distance. Franks learns about him -- beyond the alcoholism and adultery -- and comes to know the man he once was.

Her story is haunting, and beautifully told, even as the tragedy becomes clear: Franks finally understands her father, but only as he is slipping further into his illness. My Father’s Secret War is a triumph of love over secrets, and a tribute to the power of the connection of family.

* Mp3 CD Format *. In this moving and compelling memoir about parent and child, father and daughter, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lucinda Franks discovers that the remote, nearly impassive man she grew up with had in fact been a daring spy behind enemy lines in World War II. Sworn to secrecy, he began revealing details of his wartime activities only in the last years of his life as he became afflicted with Alzheimer's. His exploits revealed a man of remarkable bravado -- posing as a Nazi guard, slipping behind enemy lines to blow up ammunition dumps, and being flown to one of the first concentration camps liberated by the Allies to report on the atrocities found there.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
For years, journalist Lucinda Franks had been estranged from her infuriating, impenetrable father. But when he faced eviction at the age of 80, she reluctantly stepped in to pick up the pieces of his chaotic life. While cleaning his apartment, she discovered a box of Nazi memorabilia that aroused her reporter's curiosity. Soon Franks was off and running on the investigation of a lifetime, as she gradually uncovered the key to her father's emotional remoteness in his secret wartime past. In this touching memoir, she recounts how she grew to love and understand this brave and complicated man at the very moment he was slipping away.
Publishers Weekly
One day, while trying to straighten up her elderly father's apartment, Franks discovered Nazi military paraphernalia, inspiring the Pulitzer-winning reporter and novelist (Wild Apples) to investigate what he really did during the Second World War. The painstaking inquiries are hampered by his reluctance to discuss his work in military intelligence, attached to the navy's Bureau of Ordnance. Some of that reluctance may have to do with the onset of dementia tearing away his memories, but he's also profoundly traumatized by some of his missions. In one moving passage, he is persuaded to describe his experience as one of the first American observers at a liberated concentration camp, every sentence still painful to get out even 50 years later. As Franks perseveres with her questions, she begins to understand how those experiences shaped their disintegrating postwar family life, but she acknowledges how difficult it is to achieve closure with this past, especially when she's afraid to confront the reality of his present condition. Even the most painful moments-as when she throws a particularly harrowing revelation back in her father's face to score revenge for adolescent resentments-are recounted with unflinching honesty as the military history takes a backseat to the powerful family drama. (Mar.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
After reestablishing contact with her troubled, elderly father following a long estrangement, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Franks (Wild Apples) begins to suspect he might have been a spy during World War II. Resentful over his adultery, alcoholism, and lapses of responsibility, she mercilessly questions him about his secret past and uses her journalistic skills to research his wartime activities. Despite suffering age-related ailments, her father reluctantly recalls vivid details of his clandestine service, e.g., reporting firsthand on the atrocities committed at the just-liberated Ohrdruf concentration camp in Germany. Through discovering his traumatic military experiences, Franks seeks to understand better both his life and her own. While her underlying anger toward her father is understandable, her long-term and almost cruel interrogation of him, which fills page after tedious page of this lengthy work, quickly becomes distasteful. She seems to care little about his clear emotional distress at being forced to recall these painful events. Her methods of investigation go too far, and her search for the truth rings of selfishness. This disturbing but candid memoir illuminates the dire human costs of war's trauma and may appeal to readers seeking to understand a family member scarred by military service. Suitable for larger public libraries.
—Ingrid Levin
Kirkus Reviews
A reporter for the New York Times, emotionally estranged from her father for most of her adult life, reconciles with him as she gradually, then obsessively, uncovers the story of his covert military activities during World War II. Franks, author of the novel Wild Apples (1991), begins with a childhood memory-wiping out on her bicycle, then lying bloody in her father's sheltering arms. But, as she quickly notes, there was little intimacy between them thereafter. She was angry with him for his ill treatment of her mother (who died in 1976), which included a long affair with a woman named Pat; for his slovenliness later on (she describes having to clean out his apartment); for his emotional coldness; for his refusal to talk about anything of consequence. But while cleaning up after him one day, she discovers in a box of items from the war some Nazi memorabilia. Thus begins the journey presented here, one filled with discoveries-about her father's role as a spy (and assassin) in both theaters of the war, about her parents' love (and its dissolution), about religion, about the author's roles as sister, wife, mother. As she gradually begins to coax her father to talk about his past, complications arise: He exhibits signs of dementia, then is diagnosed with terminal cancer. But before he dies, she has come, through her understanding of him, to love him once again. There are tears and lumps in her throat. At the moment of his death, she sees a disturbance in the air around his bed, decides it's God and practices thereafter a religious life that she abandoned long before. Much of her story deals with her research and with her discoveries, including a packet of love letters her father wrote to hermother during the war. She quotes long-often too-long-passages from them. She also reminds us throughout that she won a Pulitzer in 1971. A sturdy but overgrown narrative in need of substantial pruning.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400103812
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/2007
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 11 CDs, 13 hours
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 5.52 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Meet the Author

Lucinda Franks

Journalist Lucinda Franks won a Pulitzer Prize in 1971 for her national reporting.

Joyce Bean is an accomplished audiobook narrator and director. In addition to being an AudioFile Earphones Award winner, she has been nominated multiple times for a prestigious Audie Award, including for Good-bye and Amen by Beth Gutcheon.

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Read an Excerpt

My Father's Secret War

A MEMOIR
By Lucinda Franks

HYPERION

Copyright © 2007 Lucinda Franks
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4013-5226-4


Chapter One

My father hadn't the pleasure of receiving his own eviction notice. It came to me instead, special delivery. "You will be forcibly removed from your apartment ...," it read, and for one cold moment I imagined that it was I who would be put out on the street. Then I saw the signature of my father's landlord, one of the world's most kindly souls. What horrors had driven him to this course of action? I could imagine his sympathy, his patience, hardening into desperation, the usual course of emotions that my father-a man so paradoxical he was almost an impossibility-induced in others. Rent unpaid, apartment overflowing with detritus, he had undoubtedly given the landlord my address and then run for cover. This was nothing new. Tom Franks had been a barnacle on my life for as long as I could remember.

It has never mattered what I do for my father: He sabotages it. I hire a cleaning lady; he fires her. I assemble the forms for veteran's benefits; he never files them. I ask him if he wants me to come up to Massachusetts and help him get organized, and-to my relief-he says no. Yet when things fall apart, I am the one he turns to.

For years, I'd closed my eyes. A respite. No cries of distress. No calls from creditors. Dared I hope that I might finally be free ofhim? But no, of course not. The eviction notice is followed by more warnings. His electricity, his phone, his gas are about to be cut off. He's been living in a firetrap, a health hazard, and an eyesore, and unless I come to the rescue, his next address-he, the perfect gentleman-will be a city shelter.

How can a man so vigorous he can still win state shooting championships in his eighties, fail to open his own mail? How can someone who so stubbornly dotes on his independence put himself in such jeopardy?

Furious, I take my six-year-old daughter, Amy, leaving my husband and son behind, and drive from New York City to my father's home in the little town of Milford, which lies forty miles northwest of Boston.

My father opens the door and gives us each a bear hug. Even though it's early afternoon, he's wearing a blue terrycloth bathrobe so full of holes it looks like it's been sprayed with a machine gun. Stubble sprouts from his chin, his fine brown hair sticks up at odd angles. I have to admit that even with his knobby knees peeking out from below his robe, there's something fortifying about my father. He's 6'3" and big-boned, with a big forehead and big chin, his moist blue eyes magnified by his glasses, and a Roman nose gone bumpy with age. His half-moon smile, topped by a frog-like upper lip, lights up his face and has inspired unbecoming behavior in even the most durable of women.

"Oh, you don't know how good it is to see you," he says. Then he ushers us into the kitchen with, under the circumstances, comical gallantry. I push past him into the next room, following a narrow path that winds from the study to the living room; it is essentially a canyon bordered by teetering towers of cardboard cartons. My heart sinks as I look at the piles of newspapers and flyers covering every available surface, save for a small space on the sofa reserved for his recalcitrant bottom.

He puts his hands on my shoulders and quickly guides me back into the kitchen, clearing a stack of Styrofoam takeout containers from a kitchen chair. "Won't you sit down?" he asks, pushing the chair right to the back of my knees.

I'd forgotten about this, his chivalrous persona. Even now, he hasn't lost it. He's always ceremoniously opened doors for women and rapidly surrendered his seat to them. "Please" and "thank you" fall frequently from his lips. It occurs to me now that these flourishes are a kind of salve, for he is exceedingly grateful for the attention they bring.

"Please," he entreats me, "let me offer you something to drink."

"No thanks, Dad," I say. What could we expect to find in his refrigerator? Sour milk? Rancid orange juice?

"Mom," Amy yells, holding out an open box of Wheaties she's found on the kitchen counter. "They're moving!" We proceed to unearth a half dozen other open boxes of cereal, all crawling with weevils. On top of the cartons there's a parade of plastic bags. Out of curiosity I open them. The first bag: flashlight, shaving cream, Tums. The second bag: flashlight, shaving cream, Tums. The third bag: flashlight, shaving cream, Tums. I'm in a movie that keeps rewinding.

"Dad," I sigh, turning to the man who stands there smiling obliviously, "what have you done here?" I'm about to cry. "Why do you do this? Just look! Look at this mess."

His neck comes out like a turtle's. He peers right, peers left, peers up. "Whatever do you mean?" he replies.

My father was born Thomas Edward Franks in Champaign, Illinois, an only child in a prosperous but unassuming family. His father, a morally erect man, owned an insurance firm and served as mayor of the city. His mother was an accomplished pianist who, when she found out her son was tone-deaf, lost interest in him. He seemed not to care. He was too busy teaching himself a multitude of skills. He perfected his marksmanship by shooting woodchucks and squirrels for local farmers. He built a chemistry lab in the cellar and set off explosions in a field on the edge of town until the Champaign police put an end to that. By the time he was nineteen, he was paying his way through the University of Illinois, majoring in chemistry and engineering. General Alloys, a specialized metal-casting firm in Chicago, recognized his gifts and hired him straight out of college.

My parents met sometime in 1940, when Tom walked up to the counter at Marshall Field's where Lorraine was selling silk stockings. Mother said that he was considered a great social catch: tall, handsome, clever, and aloof. Her roommates in Chicago all vowed to snag him, but she, who played hard to get, was the one who did. She'd been born into a prominent midwestern family, the Swannell-Leavitts, who had once all but owned the town of Kankakee, Illinois. Her antecedents included a lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria, a Connecticut bishop, and a London hatmaker. People would describe her as pretty, with her full lips, large blue eyes, and lively personality. They would also say she was smart, merciless, and beneath her insouciance, possessed of a deadly wit.

They married on November 17, 1941. Tom entered the U.S. Navy in late 1942 as an officer candidate and was commissioned as an ensign a few months later. After the war, he worked his way up to first vice-president of General Alloys. Then, after years of pregnancies gone wrong, I was born. Six years later, they produced my sister, Barbara Penelope. Choosing a stylish suburb of Boston, my mother moved us into a sprawling Tudor home in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Mother was the brains behind a half dozen charities. Gay and funny, she gave out gifts for no reason, offered help freely to friends in need, and was in general much admired. My father, by contrast, was considered a hermit, more comfortable puttering at his basement workbench than cruising the social circuit. However, he was an elegant dancer, did a mean Charleston, and squired Mother around town on demand. They swept into Valentine Balls and Boston Pops benefits in their chiffon ball gowns and white tie and tails, and graced dinner parties from Wellesley to Boston. My mother was head of the Boston Opera Guild under Sarah Caldwell and got her husband to act in several productions as an extra. She loved to tell the story of how, wearing a priest's hat and brocade robes and carrying a tall crucifix for a performance of Boris Godunov, he stumbled down some steps and nearly speared a bishop.

Years later, after Mother died, Dad, then in his sixties and unemployed, dropped a bomb on me and Penny: He was almost penniless. Our parents' finances were a mess, we'd known that, but not that the situation was so dire. We had to sell our beloved childhood home and we had to sell it in a hurry. Penny and I packed up some one hundred cartons that held not only the contents of the house, but the memorabilia of three generations of grandparents on both sides of the family. We saved every ivory button, every cracked ramekin. Over the years, Penny and I have emptied some of the cartons, but most of them accompanied my father first to his new little house in nearby Hopkinton and then, as his financial circumstances worsened still further, to this smaller apartment in Milford. As I squeeze past the cartons, it appears that he's never opened one of them.

After we arrive, I hire local boys to clean out the bulk of the spoiled food, scour the kitchen, and lug the newspapers out to the dumpster; my father follows them around, bellowing in protest, "I can do this myself!" That's always been his mantra. He's walled off almost everyone from his life with his obstinacy-his wife, his daughters, his friends, his co-workers. I've been forced into an impossible position, a nagging figure against whom he must play the game of deflect, hide, duck, and resist. I hate being the side of my own mother he and I both detested.

Since my son, Josh, was born thirteen years ago, my father and I have tried to reach some kind of accommodation, though every word we share feels forced. My husband, Bob, and I invite him often to come to our apple orchards in Fishkill, in the Hudson Valley in upstate New York. Yet he's always canceling at the last minute: He's sick, he's tired, he isn't up to the drive. Is the divide between us too painful for him? I'll never know, for he's certainly not going to admit to anything. He ducks Penny the same way, seldom flying out to California to visit her. I know that he'd rather be with us and his grandchildren than anyone on earth. But he's always been afraid of something; it makes him glue himself to his Queen Anne sofa, once my mother's pride, now torn, its velvet brocade worn smooth. It makes him open the door no more than a crack when the neighbors come to check on him, makes him quickly dispatch them with a nod and a smile.

After the initial cleaning frenzy, Amy and I begin coming up every weekend to work on my father's apartment. We want to make it more livable for him, and frankly, it's a relief to get away from home. It's the girls against the boys back in New York City. Josh and I have always been extremely close, but when he hit the age of thirteen, he made it clear that just talking to his mother was as much fun as having a Cambodian root canal. The strife between us has sent Bob in the other direction, but when pressed, he takes Josh's side. He's an older father, after all, and he loves to have his youngest son's approval. Amy, on the other hand, is my special pal. We've begun to rather enjoy our trips up to Milford. My father loves his quirky granddaughter, with her Alice-in-Wonderland hair and heart-shaped lips. This unsmiling man comes alive in her presence. Sometimes he'll make his hands into birds' wings and flap them at her. Sometimes he'll put his thumbs in his ears and wave. She rewards him by breaking out into giggles. Sometimes he'll just look at her and say, "My little princess."

I was his little princess once upon a time. Just he and I and a huge white telescope in the middle of the dew-soaked lawn. He bought it for me when I was five. Spring, summer, fall, winter, we would go stargazing, peering cheek to cheek through the large lens he had ground himself, like twin stars huddling in the Northern Crown.

January is our favorite month. Although the cold sometimes brings on my asthma, that's when my favorite constellation is high in the sky. He lifts me up, shivering under two blankets, my eyes widening at the wonder of the galaxy. "Look, Cindy, look to the left. Do you see the three bright stars? What are they?"

"Orion's belt, Daddy!" The Mighty Warrior slowly emerges as Daddy points out each star, giving life to the head, the bright knee, the red cloud of gas that is his tummy: Orion, sword drawn back, so tall he can wade through the deepest sea.

"Uh-oh, I think he's going to get Taurus the bull this time."

"No, Daddy, he's going after the rabbit, he's going to chop his head right off."

"What's the name of the rabbit, Cindy?"

"Lepus!" We tour the dancing Pleiades sisters, the scuttling Cancer, the Canis hunting in a pack of two.

Sometimes the stars, shimmering like the sequins on Mother's silk gown, make me short of breath. I try to muffle my wheezes, but Daddy always knows. He hears the cats meowing in my chest and carries me away, leaving our beloved galaxy for a bed clammy with steam.

By age nine or ten, I can stand on my own two feet and look through the lens. Bulls and swords give way to nebulae, asteroids, quasars, celestial explosions. "Dad, what's beyond the universe, what does it look like?" The thought obsesses me, makes me shiver. "What do you think nothingness is?"

"That's a very good question, and I just don't know the answer."

"Dad, I think maybe God is beyond there." I'm an Episcopalian, indoctrinated by Mother, and he's something she calls a "damned atheist."

He unscrews the lens. "Maybe you're right," he says gently.

As I grow older, we hurtle out of the orbit that held us together. He's away from home more and more, on mysterious business trips. The telescope slowly rusts in the garage. There are a few perfunctory kisses on the head as he goes down to his workbench. We play a board game or two, but he drifts off in the middle. He acts with me as he acts with all adults: remote, emotionally impenetrable, a voyager to places I cannot reach. I become caught in a conundrum: My father acts as though he loves me, but if this is so, why is he so far away? Like someone whose real self has been sucked up forever into the jaws of a big black hole.

Every carton I unpack now is a reminder of the puzzles and pleasures of my childhood. At the bottom of one, I find old records: Dixieland, Rag, the complete collection of Knuckles O'Toole albums.

I hear the rhythm of Daddy's footsteps as he comes home from the office, tossing off his hat, heading for the record player, which Mother had disguised as a French Provincial lowboy, taking off her Ezio Pinza LP, and dropping on Knuckles O'Toole. His favorite rag-time player could move his fingers up and down the keyboard as fast as a hummingbird's wings. Daddy would stand over the phonograph, tapping his foot and snapping his fingers. You always knew Daddy was taking a shower when you heard his sonorous bass booming "bum-bum, bum-bum." Unfortunately, he only had two good notes, which was why he confined his singing to the bathroom.

Sometimes, he'd take me to New York to hear bands like the Dukes of Dixieland. We'd sit in some smoky dive, my feet dangling from a barstool. The reticent father I knew from home would vanish, replaced by an animated man who joyfully beat his hands on the mahogany counter in time to the clarinets and saxophones and drums. Now he doesn't even listen to jazz. The phonograph is long gone, and he's never replaced it. If Knuckles still exists, he's somewhere in my father's head.

Another box contains a mishmash of chipped china wrapped in strips of pink insulation, decks of cards, papers, pennies, a butterfly net that my father had made out of green mesh, and a number of homemade bullets rolling around on the bottom. Bullets and butterflies, such a bizarre combination of hobbies. I let the lead slugs sift through my hand.

Smells of childhood: pea soup simmering on the stove, wet dog, hot radiators, sweaty socks, lilies in the living room. All the scents I never had. Instead, the warm, bitter odor of gunpowder and molten lead had wafted up from the cellar as Dad, in his murky lair, meticulously cast his ammunition. He melted old bullets on a special hot-plate, slowly tapping the gunpowder into the rows of indentations in the mold. A champion marksman, he insisted that his homemade bullets shot more accurately. The acrid smell permeated everything, as my mother crossly strode about the house, squirting eau de cologne into the air in a futile attempt to mask it.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from My Father's Secret War by Lucinda Franks Copyright © 2007 by Lucinda Franks. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 23 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Skip this memoir

    My Father¿s Secret War by Lucinda Franks perfectly exemplifies what is wrong in the world today: nepotism. Thanks to the wonder of connections (Franks is a reporter for the New York Times), we have a book about an ordinary couple stuck in a poor marriage, and a self-absorbed daughter who tends to go for the melodramatic. My Father¿s Secret War is a story with two goals: to try and understand the parent/child relationship, and to piece together a father¿s role in World War II. <BR/><BR/>Franks begins by exposing her parent¿s foibles and their disintegrating marriage. Like so many families, this one has its problems -- in this case an angry mother and a philandering father. While this is a sad tale, it does not deserve to be exposed to the general public. Franks goes to great lengths to reconstruct her parent¿s marriage, including the sharing of their love letters to prove their initial passion. Written at the beginning of their relationship, and just after Franks¿ father was shipped overseas, the letters shed little light on their marriage and are standard fare for newlyweds. Later, Franks describes her father¿s relationship to his girlfriend Pat, her mother¿s manipulative behavior, and her reaction to these events. Again, Franks¿ rendition of her family¿s difficulties does not merit publication. <BR/><BR/>The second and more disturbing narrative centers on Franks¿ obsession regarding the ¿truth¿ about her father¿s military role in World War II. Franks goes to great lengths to prove that her father was a hero and spy in the war, ¿Here I am, walking over broken shells with a man I never knew: a weapons instructor for the Resistance, a courier behind enemy lines, who knows what else.¿ Franks constructs several accounts about her father¿s war service, and though she attempts to put the pieces of the puzzle together, the evidence is ambiguous. Not satisfied that her father played his role in the war, and did so without fanfare (like so many brave men of that generation), she seeks to find a greater place in history for him. It is almost as though Franks is trying to polish her pedigree to impress those around her. <BR/><BR/>Under the guise of trying to bridge the gap between daughter and father, Franks subjects her father to endless hours of interrogation about his role in the war. Her father, who suffers from Alzheimer¿s, is clearly exhausted and in poor health, yet Franks is like a dog with a bone ¿ she will not let go. Married to New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, and obviously financially well off, Franks¿ personal admissions are frankly embarrassing. When asked by her father¿s friend to help lift her dad¿s financial burden, she responds: ¿We just can¿t do it Lou. We¿ve got three households to maintain; we¿re already spread too thin.¿ At the very end of the book we learn the real reason Franks has written this story: ¿I had wanted to hurt my father as much as he had hurt me. I¿d nagged him, manipulated him into confessions, then shamelessly condemned him. Little by little, I¿d forced him to give up every shred of camouflage, until he was utterly exposed.¿ Mission accomplished. <BR/><BR/>Quill says: This book is a sad reminder of the contrast between those brave men and women who did their work and lived their lives with dignity, and the self absorption of the baby boomer generation.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2009

    "My Father's Secret War"

    Too much name-dropping, focus on the author's "connections"-- and a lot of self-absorbed whining on the part of the author-- combine to undermine the potential in this memoir.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A great memoir...impeccably written...

    This book is quite interesting. It's the memoir of the author's father, obviously, but it's more than that.
    Frank (the father) was in the military in the 1940's. Lucinda doesn't know it when she sets out to find out what his role was, but he was a spy. A lot of the things he did were secret, and were never to be spoken about, but she ends up through thorough research, by finding some things in his belongings and by eventually convincing him to speak, finding out exactly what he did.
    The short highlights are that he taught others in the military in the use of weapons, he created secret bombs and weapons, he infiltrated the Nazi's and went into their ranks as a Nazi, and he went into a Nazi Internment Camp at the time of liberation to report back to the military about what was going on in the camps and the conditions. That's the extremely short list.
    This is also the story of a relationship between a father and a daughter. By finding out what her father faced in the militar, she was able to get closet to him as a father and as a person. She could finally understand why he would remain stone-faced when he should be happy, why he covered up things he had done (not just in the military), why he treated her mother as he did, why he treated the rest of the family as he did, and why he took a mistress.
    She ends up having complete respect for her father, her mother and the mistress.
    The one minor disappointment is that the book jacket made this seem like it would be about her father's role in the Holocaust. That was such a minor part of the story, that it really shouldn't have been such a big part of the book jacket. The story was still amazing, though.
    Pick it up and check it out. It was great. It really doesn't hurt that the author is a language artist. Her writing is impeccable!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2009

    APPALING WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY

    It was with great anticipation that I ordered this in hopes that this would be a touching memoir written by the daughter of a man who served his country with selfless heroism. I was not only sorely disappointed but also somewhat disgusted by the author's focus on herself and her distracted opinions regards her apparent disdain for shopping in discount stores (i.e. Kmart) and her repeated self importance/social position due to her marriage to Robert Morganthal, none of which had anything to do with her father's accomplishments or service to his country. The only positive thing I gained from purchasing this is that it made me reflect on my own father's service to this country through 3 wars and the hundreds of thousands of other servicemen and women whose service to this country (in comparison to the author's father) are much more heroic and selfless. The title of this book is very misleading. It should have been "Me and My Overinflated Sense of Self Importance..." The author reminds us that she is a Pulitzer Prize recipient numerous times and although I have never read anything else written by her it did make me wonder how that could have been accomplished. She also reiterates and heavily implies that she is especially important due to her father in law's political appointment and her husband's accomplishments, as if other people's accomplishments and success are her own. She whines about her financial contributions to her father's well being as though this is a burden instead of a loving privelege. I wish I could get a refund and ask for compensation for eating my soul, making me lose faith in mankind, and replace the time I spent on this purchase.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2009

    This was great....

    I really think this was well written. I liked the mystery, wondering what she was gonna find next. Her father was an amazing man!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2008

    I can't get through this!

    I am reading this book right now and it is not good. Perhaps it gets better - I am halfway through and have put it down numeroud times to read better books!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2007

    Disappointing

    I was looking forward to reading this, but was disappointed. I actually thought of setting it aside a couple times. Clearly, the author went through an important therapeutic process in writing this book. But for readers, the word-for-word conversations and reminiscing about family spats gets tedious. Her detailed descriptions of her and her husband's wealthy lifestyle also grate. A lot of this material could have been edited out. I would have preferred that all this led up to a less fragmented narrative of her father's wartime service, rather than a gradual teasing out of the details over the course of the book. For much better pieces about fathers in WWII, I recommend Jonathan Franzen's portrait of his father in 'The Corrections,' Alan Gurganus' piece 'Minor Heroism' in his collection called 'White People,' or James Bradley's 'Flags of our Fathers.'

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2009

    My Father's Secret War

    Well written. Really explored the topic. Unique subject matter. Did drag in parts, especially when she discussed the weapons. Might be appealing to someone who has knowledge about guns. Neat it was a biography. Another page in our nation's history.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2007

    A beautifully written book.

    An amazingly interisting story told with gutwrentching honesty.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 2, 2014

    Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!

    Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!

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  • Posted February 24, 2011

    There are much better WWII memoirs..

    Not what I had hoped for- was more about the author than her father and his service

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  • Posted March 16, 2009

    Incredibly boring

    I wish that I could say that I enjoyed this book, especially since so many others have. Unfortunately, I found it profoundly boring. I read it all the way through, hoping that at some point it would become interesting, but it never did. I wouldn't read this book again.

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    Posted May 18, 2010

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