The Good American: A Novel Based on True Events

Overview

The last thing Major Ted Whitman expected in the summer of 1948 was to fall in love with Ruth Karstens, a destitute but spirited young widow with two small children. Recently divorced and newly stationed in Germany, his mind is set on a career as a fighter pilot. But when Ruth stands before him in her mended dress and her proud demeanor, begging him get her passage to war-torn Berlin, he falls hard and is ready to do anything to help her. The Russians are about to blockade the city, and Ruth is determined to get ...
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The Good American: A Novel Based on True Events

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Overview

The last thing Major Ted Whitman expected in the summer of 1948 was to fall in love with Ruth Karstens, a destitute but spirited young widow with two small children. Recently divorced and newly stationed in Germany, his mind is set on a career as a fighter pilot. But when Ruth stands before him in her mended dress and her proud demeanor, begging him get her passage to war-torn Berlin, he falls hard and is ready to do anything to help her. The Russians are about to blockade the city, and Ruth is determined to get her sister's child out before that happens. Fate, however, has other plans. Just as her train pulls out of the city, the Russians start the blockade, stop all transportation, and leave her stranded. Confident that ingenuity and pluck will help her to survive the journey home through enemy territory with a five-year-old, Ruth sets out on foot.
Forty years later, fate brings Ted's son Alex and Ruth's daughter Penelope together. The memories they share of their parents weave a tapestry of courage, sacrifice, and of a love strong enough to survive insurmountable odds.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781482602043
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/7/2013
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Meet the Author

Ursula Maria Mandel is the author of three much loved novels, The Good American (2001), Diary of a Naïve (2010), and The Tenant: A Love Story (2013). She has also published a number of short stories and essays, a collection of humorous cadet stories from the Virginia Military Institute, and a children's e-book, Bo on the Fence Post. Her short story, Deader'n a Doornail, was broadcast by NPR in February, 2003.
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Read an Excerpt

Politics: A Fragment

On a summer day in 1948, Ruth Karstens, a young widow, and Pauli, her five-year-old niece, made their way gingerly down a densely forested mountain somewhere in eastern Germany. Both were hot, muddy, and exhausted. Pauli, holding on to Ruth's hand, lagged behind more and more, and so it looked as if Ruth were dragging the child down the mountain. A fresh breeze that had stayed behind after a thunderstorm parted the leaves of the trees now and then and gave Ruth a view over the vast, green pastures and barren fields toward where she was headed: a round village at the far horizon out of which stuck a church steeple. In the haze of that humid summer day, the hamlet looked more like a mirage than an actual village, but the image was enough to inspire Ruth to keep going.

In the same dense and silent forest, near the foot of the same mountain, a Russian soldier sat on the ground. He guarded a wide, muddy strip of land, a kind of road that hugged the foot of the mountain. His task was to make sure that no one would cross it. The strip was about fifty yards wide and had been thoroughly cleared of trees and underbrush and, particularly, of the network of brambles of the wild blackberries that used to grow there. The children of the village used to come in the summer to collect the berries in tins and baskets, and their mothers used to make the most delicious jams out of them. But the children did not come that summer. In fact, no one went near the mountain for fear they would be shot.

That day in 1948, the raped tract of land, now looking sad and desolate, didn't have the least scent of the brutal notoriety that would define it for the next fifty years when it would be called 'The Iron Curtain.' By dividing the world into East and West, it would have more power than any other piece of real estate ever. That afternoon, it looked innocent enough. Not far from the soldier, in the part that was called 'The West' and that was occupied by the American Armed Forces, a young farmer tilled a field with an ox. Ruth could see him as she came down the mountain. She had the distinct sense that, once she crossed what appeared to her a muddy creek and made it to that farmer, she would be home free.

The soldier, a gun in his lap, fished a cigarette out of a crumpled pack and struck a match. But before the match could make its way to the tip of the cigarette, a twig snapped brightly in the silence of the forest. The soldier froze, holding the lit match between his fingers. All his senses strained as the small sound of leaves crushed by soft steps came haltingly closer from somewhere above him. Without making the least sound, he blew out the match, lifted his gun, and rolled behind a tree. Ruth and the child walked directly and unsuspectingly toward him...

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 3, 2010

    Indeed A Beautiful Read

    Again the phantom 'Southernreader' strikes with a review of a book she obviously wished she herself had written. She attempted to trash Mrs. Mandel on Amazon as well, she obviously has an agenda here. The Good American is a wonderfully written book and I fail to see what self publishing has to do with the quality of one's work. If only I could write like this and have the courage to then present my efforts to the World. And since when does the mention of laptops circa 1992 in the book diminish its validity? I work in a technical field so I happen to know the first laptop (the Osborne 1) was invented in 1981. In 1992 there were many competing laptop makers in the market, from Zenith and Compaq in 1989 to Apple with their first Mac PowerBooks in 1991, and the IBM ThinkPad came out in 1992. As stated above, obviously the previous reviewer has some sort of agenda as evidenced by her critical reviews of other authors. Read The Good American and in so doing support entrepreneurial authors; you'll be treating yourself to a beautiful story. By the way, Mrs. Mandel just released two more books, her 2nd novel, Diary of a Naive, and a children's book, Bo on a Fencepost.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2005

    A Beautiful Read...

    Ursula Maria Mandel's 'The Good American' is a stunning novel of complex emotions. Her writing style is so powerful and imagery-laden, that I truly felt as if I was among the characters, experiencing the sights, smells and emotions that are so vividly captured among the pages of this novel. While this is a story of love, familial devotion, humility, perseverence and survival, it also beautifully chronicles one man's attempt at coming to terms with a flood of pent-up emotions in his personal journey towards forgiveness. I simply could not put this book down. If ever there was a story worthy of being told, this is the story.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 19, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    A beautifully written book, and very obviously written from personal experiences and first hand knowledge of the subject matter. The story reminds us all that what we tend to take for granted, many have sacrificed greatly to have. Excellent job.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    Don't bother with

    I guess I'm against the grain with this one. Be aware that this is a self published book. Supposedly based on a true story, the "author" wants you to believe that we all had laptops back in 1992,and fiction or not, it's hard to trust a writer that starts out her book with such a blatant error.I even contacted the publishing company, and they told me, the books they publish are the sole property of the writer, and they can write whatever they want, and after all it is a work of fiction. Well, if fiction is based on a true story, then at the least get your time frames and facts that support the story correct. Sorry, errors like that make me close a book. What I did read was only so so.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2002

    Buy this book now...it's superb!

    Reviewer: A. C. Gray from Massanutten, VA USA All whose lives have been touched by the ravages of war bear in their memory forever the grief, losses, and struggles to grasp some meaning for living out the balance of their days. The post-war adjustments for many perhaps never end. Time has a way of mending broken hearts but the wounds and scars of war heal very slowly. We meet people every day whose lives have been changed immeasurably by conflict and many of their stories never get into print. The several life stories that are woven so ingeniously in The Good American are reminders of many who have coped courageously with adversity and found a way not only to survive, but also to use their limited resources and native talents for remaking of an orderly world. Ursula Mandel, who grew up in postwar Germany, weaves a tale of ordinary people who did extraordinary things. The warm German hospitality I found as an American officer stationed in Wiesbaden three decades after World War II had ended grew out of a mutual respect Americans and Germans had one for another. Americans I knew immensely admired the German work ethic and ingenuity, their clean streets and homes, their delicious strudels, their superb automobiles, but most of all their determination to rebuild their cities and lives. Ursula Mandel's book is a benediction and compliment to those Americans and Germans who loved and cared enough to forge a lasting friendship for our two countries. The book has the essentials for a powerful cinema and I hope to see the story come alive on the big screen.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2001

    A brilliant book!

    Beautifully written! I couldn't put this book down. Moving and lovely, uplifting and suspenseful, it tells of a sister's love for a sister, of a son's guilt, of a daughter trying to come to terms with her past, of a dangerous journey, and of the possibility of a new and lasting love.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2001

    COMPELLING POST-WAR STORY BASED ON TRUE FACTS

    A compelling, captivating story ¿ once you start reading this book, you cannot put it down. THE GOOD AMERICAN portrays life in post-war Germany through two storylines ¿ a woman¿s quest to rescue her sister¿s child out of Berlin before the Russian blockade, and her falling in love with an American officer. Short chapters are used as a literary tool to increase the reader¿s suspense. The author goes back and forth between 1948 and 1992, the year in which one of the woman¿s daughters meets with the American¿s son to reveal the true story. This is one of the most visually written books I have ever read ¿ filled with all the five senses on every page: the reader can literally see the children play in the rubble of the bombed cities, taste the lollipop the little girl is longing for, and smell the coffee from the American that the women treasure. Scenes of women and children looking for berries in the woods, trading anything they own for food, trying to sell the precious silverware for a child¿s doll remind me of the stories my own grandparents ¿ who were German ¿ had told me. Every American should read this book to understand what life is like after a war in one¿s own country. Then read it again and again, and you may feel that you have been there yourself. A masterpiece of literature! Bravo, Dr. Mandel. We are eagerly awaiting your next book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2001

    A must read!

    This book is wonderful. I was unable to put it down once I started. It shows the genuine spirit of mothers, sisters and family. You will be amazed at the lengths a loyal sister will go to free her niece from Berlin after WWII. It is a must have for your collection.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2001

    Fascinating Story

    With all the conveniences of today's world it is hard to imagine one in which just finding a loaf of bread to sustain you and your family is of constant concern. This is a riveting tale of perseverance and triumph of the human spirit. It also shows that love can surprise us when we least expect it and when we need it most. A truely inspirational story all will enjoy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2001

    A book for the masses! Love, War, Drama, and Action rolled into one great Novel!

    As I read this book, I was taken to Post-WWII Germany, a place that I have just come back from. This book showed me a place that finally, I could understand, after living there for 4 years. The adventure, commitment, suffering, and love that is portrayed in this novel is something that most vivid movies today could not portray. This is a MUST read for those that have ever been to Germany, and for anyone that wants to read a novel that will surely stimulate all of the senses! I never read, and if I do, it takes me weeks to get through it. I read this book in 3 days, I couldn't put it down! READ THIS BOOK!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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