Who Desires Peace by James Emerson Loyd
The book’s major strength is how it expertly combines both fact and fiction. How the storyline blends real events that occurred during The Great War, with fiction, which depicts many emotions and dilemmas that truly were faced during the war, is very eloquent. This makes it a very interesting read as the base of the storyline is different from that of most other books. For example, the main character, General von Treptow, was created out of the author’s examination of an old 1860s map in his collection. Von Treptow hails from the actual Berlin suburb of Treptow. Along with this, when the author talks about The Verdun incident, he describes it as it actually happened, complete with the inclusion of the real person Sergeant Kunze. Likewise, the female character Estelle is fictional, but what she endured, i.e., her escape from the Germans, is a very typical story of many who tried to flee from German occupied areas during the Great War. Add to this appearances by some of history’s most well known individuals, including Adolf Hitler, back when he was just a Corporal in the Germany Army, and Winston Churchill, who the author does an excellent job of tapping into how the famous British leader thought and spoke. Particularly how Churchill discussed occupation of land on maps as the key to winning a war. He was right, of course, to think in this fashion. The made up conversations Churchill has with those around him feel authentic as if they were actually taken from a transcript somehow made during Churchill’s time.
Another strength of the book would be the strong overall plot. We see the story first through General von Treptow’s eyes, as he recounts his experiences with fighting, dealing with families of those who lost their sons in the War, and engaging in political maneuvers with the French. The story shifts into Treptow’s dealings with Princess Claire, the sister of Prince Max of Baden, honorary head of the German Red Cross. Claire seems to have her loyalties put to question, as Treptow comes to find out. The story also allows us to see things through the eyes of Winston Churchill, as previously mentioned, and his dealings with Treptow and the Germans. The Americans are represented as well, through mostly historical figures like Major George S. Patton, and General John J. Pershing, who was the American Expeditionary Force Commander. As the narrative progresses to the final chapter, Treptow is put in a precarious position where he may or may not be betrayed by those around him, most of all Claire, and the last sentence in the book is a cliffhanger that leaves you wanting to dive right away into the second book of this series! This book clearly entailed a lot of research on the author’s part and it seamlessly blends real historical events with fictitious ones that allow readers to see the first World War through the eyes of a German officer and those around him.
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