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Battered But Not Beaten
Reminiscent of the works of Christopher Reich and Ken Follett, David L. Robbins's second novel, The End of War, is a grand accomplishment of World War II intrigue centering on a defeated but still bloodthirsty Germany. In Robbins's previous bestseller War of the Rats, the author depicted the Battle of Stalingrad, where the city became a battleground of the bloodiest and most personal kind. Here, the reader is hastened into a breakneck-paced story taking place in Berlin during the closing months of the war. We witness the soldiers, generals, and heads of state on opposing sides planning strategies to literally "claim the kill" of Germany as "The End of War" unfolds.
In Berlin of January 1945, World War II draws to an epic close as the battle for the occupation of Berlin, the Third Reich's stronghold, begins. The three major Allied leaders -- Franklin D. Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin -- no longer entirely need or trust one another. While Roosevelt attempts to entice Stalin into joining the newly-formed United Nations, Churchill argues that Berlin must be taken before the Russians can seize the capital. Alongside such tremendous and influential world events, egos clash and old suspicions begin to rise again.
Life magazine photojournalist Charlie Bandy knows he's a part of history in the making and does his best to put a human face to the epic struggle unfolding in war-torn Germany. Also involved are Ilya and Misha, two former Russian officers who are headed for a penal battalion and must fight against the few remaining stable German forces as they march toward Berlin. Lottie, a cellist in the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, does her best to survive among the ruins of the city as she suffers through air raids, faces looters, and seeks to escape both the Gestapo and the onslaught of the Red Army.
A great deal of dialogue is taken directly from history, adding a realistic dimension to the World War II scenery as Robbins impressively reconstructs life in a turbulent Berlin. Written in the present tense, we're immediately thrust into the action of the novel, which gives us direct and memorable scenes of conflict as hostilities still spark in the devastated city. The author presents us with extensive descriptions of the harshest realities of warfare, in a country where soldiers turn on their own people and thousands of corpses still await burial. Eventually everyone is drawn into head-on confrontations as the enormous scale of world power begins to tip and sway first one way and then the other.
You'll find yourself rooting for characters trapped in certain situations despite already knowing how things will historically turn out. Our protagonists are all highly credible, filled with their own uncertainties and self-involved, grandiose intentions. Robbins should be commended for taking the time to so fully research and investigate each layer of the political and cultural strata comprising a war-torn Europe, from the sophisticated German civilian trying to survive on the lawless streets, to the Russian battalion forced to plunge forward into the enemy stronghold so that Stalin can "claim the kill." The author's attention to fact permits for a more fully-rounded understanding of the motivations of both the Allies and Axis Powers. Seasoned with meticulous details and top-notch political espionage, The End of War will make you ponder the significance of mostly forgotten historical events while racing through this powerful and poignant thriller.
Tom Piccirilli is the author of eight novels, including Hexes and Shards, and his Felicity Grove mystery series, consisting of The Dead Past and Sorrow's Crown. He has sold more than 100 stories to the anthologies Future Crimes, Bad News, The Conspiracy Files, and Best of the American West II. An omnibus collection of 40 stories titled Deep into That Darkness Peering has just been released by Terminal Fright Press. Tom divides his time between New York City and Estes Park, Colorado.