My Father's Secret War: A Memoir

My Father's Secret War: A Memoir

by Lucinda Franks
3.3 23

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Overview

My Father's Secret War: A Memoir by Lucinda Franks

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781401352264
Publisher: Miramax Books
Publication date: 03/14/2007
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.25(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

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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My Father's Secret War 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really think this was well written. I liked the mystery, wondering what she was gonna find next. Her father was an amazing man!
JennGrrl More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
An amazingly interisting story told with gutwrentching honesty.
Manirul More than 1 year ago
Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!
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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.
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detroit_tiger More than 1 year ago
Not what I had hoped for- was more about the author than her father and his service
Shellsers More than 1 year ago
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.