Night of Flames: A Novel of World War II

Night of Flames: A Novel of World War II

by Douglas W. Jacobson

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Overview

Night of Flames: A Novel of World War II by Douglas W. Jacobson

Painting a vivid and terrifying picture of war-torn Europe during World War II, this tale chronicles the lives of Anna, a Krakow University professor, and her husband Jan, a Polish cavalryman. After they are separated and forced to flee occupied Poland, Anna soon finds herself caught up in the Belgian Resistance, while Jan becomes embedded in British Intelligence efforts to contact the Resistance in Poland. He soon realizes that he must seize this opportunity to search for his lost wife, Anna.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590133033
Publisher: McBooks Press
Publication date: 10/01/2008
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 484,515
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Douglas W. Jacobson is an engineer and business owner. He lives in Elm Grove, Wisconsin.

Read an Excerpt

Night of Flames

A Novel of World War II


By Douglas W. Jacobson

McBooks Press, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Douglas W. Jacobson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-59013-392-7


CHAPTER 1

Anna Kopernik slept on this hot, muggy night, but it was a restless sleep troubled by strange dreams. The sheets were clammy and her thin cotton nightgown clung to her back. A paltry breeze drifted in through the open window with little effect. The still, humid air on this September morning hung over Warsaw like a massive wet blanket.

It was five o'clock and Anna drifted back and forth between consciousness and sleep, the dream flitting in and out of her mind like an annoying gnat. The telephone rang. Then it stopped. She wanted to answer it but couldn't find it. It rang again, but it wasn't a telephone; it was something else ... a bell, perhaps, or a horn. Anna kicked at the sticky, twisted sheet and rolled onto her back. She was almost awake but still just below the surface. The noise returned, louder now, a harsh clanging boring into her head. She kicked the sheet completely off, struggling to understand. What was it? A horn ... or ... a siren.

Anna's eyes snapped open and she sat bolt upright. The shrill sound blasted into her brain, penetrating through the fog of sleep like an icy wind. She blinked and looked around the dark room, trying to focus on shadowy images as the sound wailed on and on.

She ran to the window. It was still dark but the night sky held a hint of gray. An early morning mist shrouded the streetlamps, casting a gloomy, almost spooky glow along the deserted sidewalk below. The grating noise of the air-raid siren raised the hair on the back of her neck and suddenly she was shivering. Anna crossed her arms over her chest and stared into the dull, charcoal sky. Then she heard another sound.

It came from the west: a deep angry drone like a swarm of giant bees, growing louder by the second. Anna tried to move but her feet didn't respond. Immobilized, riveted in place, she stared out the open window as the pounding vibration of a hundred propellers enveloped her. The thunderous roar of the bombers drowned out the air-raid sirens, and the entire building seemed to sway in rhythm with the oscillations.

Anna snapped out of the spell and instinctively reached out to pull the window closed. A flash of light blinded her, and an eardrum-shattering blast threw her backward amid a shower of glass and falling plaster. She fell heavily against a small wooden night table and collapsed on the floor.

Another blast rocked the building. Frantic and disoriented, a searing pain in her head and a million lights dancing in her eyes, Anna tried to crawl under the bed, oblivious to the shards of glass that sliced through her hands and knees. Jarring detonations punctuated the deafening thunder of the airplanes.

Then, as abruptly as it started, it was over, the pulsating thump of propellers receding into the distance. Anna lay still, her head under the bed. Seconds passed, then a minute, and the only sound she heard through the ringing in her ears was the continued wailing of the air-raid sirens. She crawled backward and tried to stand, but her legs gave out. She fell against the bed and back onto the floor, this time wincing in pain from the glass and chunks of plaster that littered the floor. Holding the edge of the bed, she struggled to her feet and staggered across the room.

Through the ringing and the sirens Anna heard another sound: someone screaming in the hall. She lurched through the doorway and tripped over Irene, who was crawling on her hands and knees, covered with plaster dust. Anna reached down and helped her friend to her feet.

Irene stared at her with blank eyes then pushed past her. "Justyn!" she screamed. "Oh my God, Justyn!"

They stumbled down the dark hallway to the bedroom at the top of the stairs. The door was split down the middle, hanging from the top hinge. Anna pushed it open, and they stepped into the dust-filled room.

As her eyes began to clear, Anna squinted, trying to see through the haze. The small room was completely shattered with a gaping hole in the outside wall. On the left, where the bed had been, she spotted the ten-year-old boy lying still, face down under a pile of wood and plaster.

Irene shrieked and rushed to her son, clawing away at the rubble.

Anna knelt down beside her, and they turned the limp boy onto his back. His eyes were closed and his breathing was shallow; blood oozed from a ragged gash on his forehead. Anna spotted a pillow amid the rubble. She pulled off the pillowcase, shook out the dust and ripped it in half. As Irene held her son's head, Anna wrapped the makeshift bandage around the wound, tying it tightly to stop the bleeding.

Justyn's voice croaked, "Mama? What ... ?" The boy flinched in pain, tears welling up in his eyes, and Irene cradled him in her arms, rocking him back and forth.

Anna stood up and rubbed her eyes, which were burning and irritated from the thick dust.

She smelled something.

It was more than dust.

Smoke.

She reached down and grabbed Irene by the arm, yelling over the wailing siren, "We've got to get out of here!"

Irene looked up at her, clutching her son, not comprehending.

"The building's on fire!" Anna screamed, pulling her friend to her feet. She hoisted the boy into Irene's arms and pushed her out of the room.

The hallway was quickly filling with smoke as they scrambled down the stairs. By the time they reached the ground floor Anna's eyes were burning, and she could barely find her way through the foyer to the front door. She grabbed Irene's arm, pulled open the heavy wooden door and they burst out, coughing and gagging into the humid predawn air.


In the street it was chaos. Dense, black smoke filled the air. People clad in nightclothes screamed and ran in every direction. The howling sound of the sirens echoed between the buildings, broken by deep, booming thumps from anti-aircraft batteries.

Anna rubbed her temples, trying to collect her thoughts, when she was jolted by a piercing, high-pitched screeching noise that shot through her like an electric shock. She spun around and stared, dumbstruck, at an airplane swooping in above the rooftops. Before she could react, the plane's machine guns erupted in a hammering clatter, and a crowd of frantic people swarmed over her, crushing and jarring her, knocking her backward as a lightning trail of bullets ripped through the street in a shower of concrete and dirt.

An instant later the clattering stopped, the screeching noise fading into the distance. Anna tried to move, but a woman had collapsed on top of her. Struggling to her feet, Anna grasped the woman's arm to help her up then recoiled in horror. The arm swung from her hand, severed from the woman's limp, bloody body.

Anna went rigid as her brain struggled to comprehend the nightmare scene. She heard a scream and staggered backward, dropping the severed arm. A man crawled across the ground in front of her. Another man shoved Anna aside and dropped to his knees in front of the fallen woman.

Anna blinked and shook her head. Irene? Justyn? She spun around, searching the faces of the panic-stricken crowd. "Irene!"

Nothing.

Her heart was in her throat. "Irene!"

"Anna." The voice was muffled.

Anna shoved her way through the throng of people and spotted Irene huddled against the building with Justyn in her arms. She knelt down beside them and looked her friend in the eye. "Irene, we've got to get off the street. Is there anywhere we can go?"

A blank stare.

Anna gripped her shoulders. "Irene, think! Do you know anyone?"

Nothing.

Anna stood up and looked around, fighting panic. Three men lifted the body of the fallen woman and started down the street, pushing others out of their way. One of them carried the arm. Anna looked back at Irene. "Irene, think! Do you know anyone in the neighborhood?"

No response.

"Irene!" she screamed at her friend.

"Mrs. Kopernik?"

The soft, tentative voice startled her. Anna turned to see a short, thin man with a black beard and wire-rimmed spectacles pushing through the crowd. He wore a skullcap and a blue suit coat over his pajamas.

"Come quickly," he said, motioning with his hand.

Anna stared at him. He looked familiar.

"I'm Bernard ... Bernard Simowitz," the man said. "I was at the funeral. Come quickly. Get Irene and the boy and follow me. We've got to get off the street."

Anna reached down and pulled Irene to her feet. She picked up Justyn and followed the man through the rubble to an undamaged building on the other side of the street.

Bernard Simowitz held the door open for them, then squeezed past and led the way to a staircase, beckoning them to follow. "Down here, in the cellar. Follow me."

When they reached the bottom of the stairs, Anna set Justyn down and looked around in the dim light. They were in a damp earthen-floor room about ten meters square. The walls were made of stone, and a single bare light bulb hung from the rough, wooden ceiling. Across the room, a group of people sat on blankets.

One of them, a plump, blond woman, got to her feet and rushed across the dank room. "Irene! Mrs. Kopernik! Thank God, you're safe."

Anna stared at her, confused. Who was she?

The woman knelt in front of Justyn. "Come with me, sweetheart," she said. "We'll get you cleaned up."

Then Anna remembered. It was Bernard Simowitz's wife, Cynthia. Irene had introduced them at the funeral.

Cynthia took charge, leading Justyn by the hand and calling over her shoulder, "Bernard, get some water from the cistern and bring it over here — quickly now. Mrs. Kopernik, please come. Bring Irene over here and sit down."

Three other women and two men who had been sitting on the floor moved over to make room. Another blanket appeared, and one of the men spread it on the floor. Bernard arrived with a clay pitcher filled with water, and Cynthia began undoing the crude bandage on Justyn's head. "I spotted you from our window as we were running down to the cellar," she said, glancing at Anna. "It's a good thing you stand out in a crowd."

Anna was used to hearing comments like that. She was an attractive woman, taller than most, and her long red hair did indeed make her stand out in a crowd. This morning it had saved their lives. "I'm very grateful," she said. "I was frantic not knowing where to go."

Cynthia smiled at her then motioned with her head toward Irene, who sat clutching her knees, staring straight ahead, her eyes wide and vacant. Anna nodded and leaned back against the cold stone wall, putting her arm around her friend.

* * *

An hour passed, perhaps more. It was difficult for Anna to tell. The sirens stopped and the anti-aircraft guns fell silent. The cellar was quiet. The building's tenants huddled in corners, staring at each other, some of them glancing at the wooden ceiling as though it might collapse at any moment. Anna absently fingered the cuts on her knees, struggling to control her fear, the visions still vivid and raw: Justyn lying in a pile of rubble, the diving airplane, the severed arm. She glanced at Irene and Justyn. They were both asleep on the blanket.

Anna heard a shuffling sound and looked up to see Cynthia standing over her, holding a bundle of clothing and some shoes. "You must be getting cold," Cynthia said. "It's very damp down here." The heavyset woman set the bundle on the blanket.

While Anna put on a dress, socks and a pair of brown leather shoes that fit reasonably well, Cynthia set the rest of the clothing and shoes next to Irene and Justyn. She covered them with a long woolen coat and looked back at Anna, shaking her head. "All this happening on the day after her mother's funeral — it's no wonder she's in shock."

Anna looked curiously at the woman. Her blond hair was neatly combed and she wore an elegant silk robe over her nightgown. Incredibly, she was also wearing a string of pearls. Had she worn them to bed? Anna pushed the foolish thought out of her mind and took Cynthia's hand. "Thank you ... for everything. I don't know what we would've done if Bernard hadn't appeared when he did."

They sat down on the blanket. "We just thank the Lord that you're safe," Cynthia said. "Irene's mother, dear Izabella, worried about her all the time, living so far away."

"Did you know her a long time?" Anna asked.

"Ever since Bernard and I moved into this building, ten years ago. Her husband, Issac, ran the tailor shop in the back of their home across the street. Everyone in the neighborhood knew them. After he died, it was hard for Izabella with Irene living in Krakow and no other children. Usually, she would celebrate the Sabbath with us, but mostly she kept to herself."

"I met her just once," Anna said. "It was two years ago, when she came to Krakow for a visit."

Cynthia smiled. "I remember. Izabella spoke very fondly of you: Irene's friend, the college professor. She was pleased that Irene had such a good friend — even if you weren't Jewish. I believe you just got married, yes?"

Anna nodded.

"And your husband? He's an officer in the military?"

Anna took a deep breath. For months she had tried to convince herself that this day would never come. That Hitler was bluffing. That Germany would never be foolish enough to attack Poland now that Britain and France had pledged their support. Wasn't that what all the politicians had said? Then, when the officers were mobilized, they said it was just a precaution. She took another breath and wiped the tears from her eyes with the sleeve of her dress. "Jan is a major in the cavalry. It's his career."

"And Irene's husband — Stefan?"

"Stefan was a reserve officer in the cavalry for years. When all the tension started with Germany the brigade called their reserve officers back to active duty. He's been assigned to Jan's regiment."

Cynthia patted Anna's hand. "May God protect them ... and all of us."

They sat in silence for a while. In the quiet, the horror of the early morning came back. Anna shivered. Maybe she and Irene had been foolish to travel to Warsaw two days ago. But this wasn't supposed to happen, not now, not so soon. Irene's mother died unexpectedly. What else could they do?

Anna closed her eyes. Talking about Jan left her feeling empty. It had taken her a long time to find love, a long time alone, focused on her career, looking after her father in the aftermath of her mother's death. But from the moment she and Jan met, she knew. He was the one. She could see him now, just as plainly as if he were standing before her: tall, blond, broad-shouldered, his face more rugged than handsome, he looked younger than his thirty-eight years. A tear rolled down her cheek. She left it there. It felt better to cry.

She heard Bernard's voice and opened her eyes. He knelt in front of her, next to Cynthia. "You can stay here with us," he said, "until this all blows over. It will be too dangerous to travel by train until this is settled."

"We came by auto," Anna said, "my father's car. His driver brought us here."

"By auto? But your driver ... the car?"

"Henryk has relatives in Praga. He dropped us off the day before yesterday and went to stay with them. He's supposed to pick us up tomorrow."

The three of them just looked at one another.

CHAPTER 2

Major Jan Kopernik tightened his grip on the reins and patted the chestnut mare's neck. The horse snorted and pawed the ground, nervous from the thundering noise of the bombers flying overhead. Jan stared at the sky, mesmerized by the awesome sight. There were hundreds of them, black droning machines, blanking out the morning sky like a giant storm cloud. That's exactly what this is, he thought, a storm ... an ugly, dark storm. The planes were heading west at high altitude, back to Germany. Of one thing he was certain: somewhere to the east, in Radom or Warsaw, people had already died in this storm.

He turned in the saddle and glanced at Kapitan Stefan Pavelka. His friend glared back at him, acknowledging the grim reality. It was starting.

Jan looked up again at the massive bomber formation, and his thoughts went back to the night he got the call, canceling his leave and ordering him to report for duty. Anna had been standing next to him when he hung up the telephone. "So, this is it?" she had asked, gripping his hand. He had wanted to tell her it was just a precaution. He had wanted to tell her that everything would work out and he would probably be home in a week, maybe two. But he hadn't. She knew.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Night of Flames by Douglas W. Jacobson. Copyright © 2007 Douglas W. Jacobson. Excerpted by permission of McBooks Press, Inc..
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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Night of Flames: A Novel of World War II 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
KVM 4 months ago
Haunting. This is not just another WWII novel, it's focus is on the underground who fought and helped to win the war against the Nazi's. Its was a great book and I just enjoyed the story of the people, and makes you hope that you would be as brave as those who helped. It has parts where you cheer and parts that make you want to cry. A must read for all those who like me like to read these type of books. YES, I recommend this product.
ReadersFavorite4 More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite Night of Flames by Douglas W. Jacobson is the story of a married couple who were living a happy life, but that was destroyed by the Second World War. Forced to pick up the pieces of their lives, the two fight hard to find each other once again. The story follows a Polish couple, Jan and Anna Kopernik, who were perfectly content until the Germans invaded Poland, destroying lives everywhere. Jan is an officer in the army while Anna is a teacher at a university. Jan is sent to fight and Anna is forced to run away to Belgium, where she joins the Resistance effort against the invaders. While Anna is depressed and fighting with the Resistance, Jan is barely surviving. He flees to Britain, where he is asked to take up an undercover mission in which he would be required to contact the Resistance. Seeing this as his only chance to reconnect with his wife, Jan snatches the opportunity to make his way back to Anna. Both of them are fighting for a better life, for a second chance of being together, and neither of them is willing to give up. What can they do when the forces against them are too powerful to resist? Will they succeed or will their love be lost forever? Breathtaking, heartbreaking and emotional, Night of Flames is a brilliant audio book that discusses a difficult question and nails it. There are many novels about World War II from many different perspectives, yet this novel stands out, largely because Jacobson did a wonderful job of creating believable characters. The story was fast paced and intense with plenty of action and grit to keep me wanting more. I was happy with Jan and Anna, and sad when they were sad. This is a testament of strong writing that takes the reader on a journey with the characters and the author handled it wonderfully. Also, the narration by Ian Fisher just took the whole novel to the next level.
ReadersFavorite3 More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite Night of Flames, written by Douglas Jacobson and narrated by Ian Fisher, is an audio book set against the backdrop of the German invasion of Poland in 1939, in which Anna and Jan Kopernik get separated. The story, narrated through the viewpoints of Jan and Anna Kopernik, takes readers back to when Germany was carrying out raids on Warsaw. Anna is in Warsaw at that time with her friend Irene and Irene’s son, Justyn. They flee to Krakow, only to find out that it has been raided too. They manage to get out of Poland. Jan Kopernik works with the Polish army and, when it surrenders to Germany, he escapes to Britain. Jan gets an opportunity to go back to Krakow on an undercover mission. The book covers the fall of Poland, a separated couple trying to find each other, and the Belgian resistance movement known as the White Brigade. Will Anna and Jan be able to find each other amid all the confusion and panic caused by the war? The plot has many dimensions to it and delves into WWII, the fates of Jan and Anna Kopernik, and the fate of all the members of the White Brigade. The author captures the panic, confusion, desolation, and destruction caused by war, making it a compelling read. It is a good book for all those who love historical fiction and the well portrayed characters in the story are memorable, real, and relatable. I like the concept of audio books and the narration by Ian Fisher is excellent. He makes the story come alive with his crisp and clear narration, and the modulation and adjustments in his tone make readers feel the settings of the plot and the emotions of the characters clearly.
ReadersFavorite2 More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Sefina Hawke for Readers' Favorite Night of Flames (A Novel of World War II) written by Douglas W. Jacobson and narrated by Ian Fisher is a book that would appeal most to a diverse audience of mature young adults and adults who enjoy historical fiction set during World War II and who do not mind violence and harsh language. When the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, Anna and Jan Kopernik found their everyday lives forever altered by the unimaginable level of violence, fear, and confusion. Anna was an assistant professor at a university in Krakow, but found herself having to flee to the resistance in Belgium; her husband, Jan, an officer in the Polish cavalry, escaped to Britain. Will Anna and Jan survive the war and will they ever be reunited, or will they die alone, forever separated in their attempts to save their home? Night of Flames (A Novel of World War II) by Douglas W. Jacobson was a wonderfully created audio book filled with vivid imagery. The use of similes and metaphors was beautifully done and helped me to create a better picture of the events of the book as they occurred in my head. While I did like Jan, I personally found Anna to be my favorite character. I loved the way she was willing to fight for what she believed in. I was close to tears when her father was sent to a death camp as I could imagine the mix of horror and sorrow that she must have been feeling. Overall, I enjoyed the romance, historical accuracy, and the suspense of this audio book quite a bit; I really hope the author decides to write future books set during World War II! The narrator of this audio book was Ian Fisher. Mr. Fisher has experience narrating audio books of all genres, but some of his most notable narrations are: Biddable Brides, Hitler's Religion: The Twisted Beliefs That Drove the Third Reich, and Owen: Tudor Trilogy, Book 1. His acting experience was clearly displayed as he expertly altered the speed, volume, and tone of his voice to match the emotions of the different characters. I personally found his narration of Anna to be my favorite as he managed to expertly portray her thoughts and emotions.
ReadersFavorite1 More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Francine Zane for Readers' Favorite Night of Flames: A Novel of World War II by Douglas W Jacobson opens with the invasion of Germany into Poland and follows the stories of Anna and Jan Kopernik as they fight to survive the atrocities of war. When Jan escapes what is left of the annihilated Polish army, British intelligence recruits him for an underground mission with the Resistance. Meanwhile, Anna must flee Poland when she finds out she may be arrested by the German police. Douglas W Jacobson does an amazing job of balancing military history and underground intrigue with the human element that brings the story to life for readers. His character building is done in stages, feeding bits and pieces as needed, so that the reader stays engaged and learns about them as they would get to know strangers who are soon to become friends. The scenes in Night of Flames: A Novel of World War II are descriptive, the relationships real, and the story unfolds with all the compassion, fear, and desperation one would expect under such circumstances. Narrator Ian Fisher is a true professional. He matches his pacing with the action in the story to perfection. His enunciation and strength as a narrator is unmatched. Fisher is the perfect narrator for Night of Flames. The production quality is first class—clear and crisp. World War II buffs will enjoy this book, as will anyone who enjoys character-driven books that are edged with danger. Jacobson has truly created a well-rounded historical novel that will appeal to a wide audience.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite Night of Flames is a spellbinding story set against the backdrop of WWII. Anna and Jan Kopernik suffer unimaginable loss, thanks to the German attack on Poland. Anna is an assistant professor at a university in Krakow, while Jan is an officer in the Polish cavalry. The war tears the couple apart, and while Anna flees to Belgium for her safety, her husband works with the British. When an opportunity is given to Jan to return home as an undercover agent for the British, he seizes it, knowing it is his only opportunity to search for Anna. Will he find her in a world of uncertainty and violence? If you’re fond of listening to audio books while you drive, then don’t start Night of Flames by Douglas W. Jacobson, because you’ll become engrossed in it and be transported to places that will make you unaware of your immediate reality. Ian Fisher did an awesome job as the narrator, articulating clearly and in a tone that is both neutral and compelling, a faint fruitiness coming out in the voice and sweetening the overall listening experience. I found myself captivated by the story, and it is just brilliant to notice the punctuation, the pitch, and how the intense action comes across in the rise and ebb of the narrator's voice. The narration quickens when the action does, and Ian Fisher has the unique gift of infusing life into the narrative by letting the emotions of the characters come through in the voice. Douglas W. Jacobson crafts a story that will entice readers and take them into the heart of the war, to relive its horrors and the ingenuity of people fighting for their survival. The plot is wonderfully constructed and executed with mastery. A 'must listen to' kind of story.
LisaLickel0 More than 1 year ago
Major Jan Kopernik of the Polish Cavalry Brigade, the 29th Uhlans, says it best: “The German blitzkrieg was not just a military strategy – it was an all-out campaign of terror intent on the total destruction of his homeland.” Night of Flames is a well-detailed fictionalized account of the Nazi campaign in Poland, and the eventual resistance. Anna Kopernik, an associate university history professor in Krakow, her husband Jan, a major in the army, and Anna’s father, Thaddeus Piekarski, give their first-hand account of life during this terrible time. From being front and center when Warsaw is bombed, to watching the Luftwaffe bomb farmers on the roads and rural villages, to the occupation of Krakow, to joining the resistance, each of them deal with the tragedy. Thaddeus decides to be patient at home, believing the Allies will rescue the city soon. Jan leads his brigade into battle trying to defend a poorly prepared country that still depended on civilian telephone lines and beasts of burden to move equipment on their poor roads; Anna and her Jewish friends return to Krakow from a visit to Warsaw where the Nazi occupation edicts put them all in danger. Anna and Jan do the best they can to live long enough, fighting for their homeland, to find each other again. Anna gets involved in the resistance when she escapes to friends in Belgium just before Jan comes to Krakow on business for the exiled government because of his ability to speak German. Jacobson’s attention to detail shows his respect for the era, for the events, equipment, geography and technology of the time, even weather patterns and clothing and food. While perhaps circumstances seem aligned in perfect favor for the characters, the account is fiction, and fiction asks for the ability to take a leap of faith upon occasion. Realistic to the point that I occasionally buzzed through detailed battle accounts, Jacobson’s Night of Flames will offer readers who enjoy well-documented World War II history a great few hours back in time.
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Synopsis: Night of Flames begins in September 1939, as Germany invades Poland. Through the characters of Anna and Jan Kopernik, Douglas Jacobson takes us through the days of Poland's occupation, the bravery of vastly outnumbered Polish troops, the overwhelming force of the German military, and the heroism of the underground resistance. Jan Kopernik, an officer in the famous Wielkopolska Cavalry Brigade, a.k.a. the Polish cavalry, is a career officer sees firsthand the gaps in their intelligence sources. After barely surviving disastrous battles with German troops, Jan escapes to Britain to assist British intelligence. He is sent back to occupied territories on several undercover missions. While back in Poland, Jan searches for his missing wife, Anna. Anna Kopernik was with her Jewish friend Irene and Irene's son Justyn when the Germans began the blitzkreig. Narrowly surviving the nighttime bombings of Warsaw, Anna leads Irene and Justyn from Warsaw back to Krakow. The granddaughter of a Polish nobleman, daughter of a law professor and a professor in her own right, Anna might have been safe in Krakow, even after the "open city" succumbed to German control. But when the Germans rounded up the intellectuals, Anna's father was dragged to a concentration camp and Anna's position becomes precarious. Her friends Irene and Justyn are ordered to wear armbands with yellow stars identifying their Jewish heritage. Offered travel visas out of Poland, Anna, Irene and Justin attempt the dangerous journey. Years later, Justyn comes across an American aviator in the fields of the village Warempage, Belgium while checking out "drop sites" for the Allied Forces. Anna helps bring the young American to the safe house operated by the Comet Line. So begins Anna's involvement in the Comet Line and the White Brigade. Review: Suspenseful, engrossing, and skillfully executed, Night of Flames brings us a close look into Polish resistance movement during World War II. Douglas W. Jacobson artfully combines a complex plot with deep and sympathetic characters. The bravery and heroism of ordinary citizens in the face of grave personal danger and overwhelming odds will stay with you long after you've finished the book. Publisher: McBooks Press; illustrated edition edition (October 1, 2008), 384 pages. Review copy provided by Pump Up Your Book Promotion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
pjpick More than 1 year ago
I've always been a big fan of WWII fiction I just don't read it as much as I used to. This one did not disappoint. I appeciate that it was written from the perspective of Polish protagonists instead of the English and American protagonists I normally encounter in this genre. The story was very adventuresome and suspenseful and did not have too many "coincidences". It also did not incorporate too many well known historical characters focusing mainly on the boots on the ground type people with much of the story occurring in the resistance and/or underground. I highly recommend it for those of you who enjoy WWII fiction.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was gripped by this tale from the first page! It is beautifully written and impeccably researched, weaving a heart-stopping and sensitive tale of the experiences and heroics of common people during WWII. The focus on Poland and Belgium lends this WWII story a unique flavor, and the strong main characters take you right along with them across war-torn Europe and into the depths of the tenatious resistance movements. Fascinating story, talented story-telling. Can't wait for the sequel! Highly recommended - not only for historical fiction enthusiasts, but anyone who wants a good read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
NIGHT OF FLAMES plays out as a taut and twisting thriller with memorable flesh and blood characters. In war-torn Poland lovers Jan and Anna find themselves separated, each destined to struggle alone against the odds as the Nazi net tightens over all of Europe. No matter the risk, their will to survive, their desire for reunion, and their love of country are emblematic of millions of Europeans who refused to go gently into the night. Douglas¿ clockwork plot draws the reader onto its rollercoaster ride, clicks along at breakneck speed through tunnels with atmosphere and suspense, occasional jolts and sudden drops, reaching at last, ultimate satisfaction. James Conroyd Martin, Award-winning author of PUSH NOT THE RIVER AND AGAINST A CRIMSON SKY
Guest More than 1 year ago
In 1939 the Germans invade Poland setting off WW2. For Anna, a college professor in Krakow, and her husband, Jan, a Polish cavalry officer, it is the beginning of a struggle that seems hopeless. Fighting a covert war against overwhelming odds, they are determined to preserve their humanity and take back what is theirs. Described by THE LIBRARY JOURNAL as 'suspensful,rich in detail and impeccably researched' and by HISTORICAL NOVELS REVIEW as 'well researched and skillfully executed', NIGHT OF FLAMES is highly recommended.