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Clara Vine and the rise of the Third Reich
A superb fictional telling of the Nazi years
In 2018 I wrote an account of the rise of the Third Reich through the voices of expatriate Americans living in Europe to tell the compelling story of how the soul of an entire society was captured by what was nothing less than rampant evil. It was an attempt to capture the experiences of those many Cassandras - many in the press - who saw the rot at the heart of the Nazi regime from the outset. It was published in the USA with the title Under a Darkening Sky and in the UK as The Rise of the Third Reich. Whilst I enjoyed researching and writing the book (I spent several months in Washington, some of it in the archives at NARA) the book was an expensive lesson in the reality that just because an agent/author/publisher thinks the subject is a good idea, the ultimate arbiter of a book’s worth is the book-buying public. The book sank like a stone, despite some nice reviews. I’ve no idea why. Perhaps it just didn’t hit the zeitgeist at that point in time. Perhaps it simply wasn’t good enough. I had taken the memoirs and diaries of 46 Americans and woven a narrative around the insidious rise of evil in the heart of a modern, European society. But no one seemed interested.
Could there have been a better way of telling this story? Perhaps by means of fiction? I’ve never felt that I have the imagination to write good fiction, but fortunately there are many historians who do. I am a fan of well-written historical fiction and consume bucket-loads, most nowadays by means of the miracle of Audible. My daily dog-walks have, over the years, transported from through every age and era of history, effortlessly, courtesy of the silky pens of the likes of writers like S.G. McLean, Jemahl Evans, Chris Lloyd, Iain Gale, Abir Mukherjee, Mark Ellis, Andrew Taylor, Vaseem Khan, Philip Kerr, Robert Harris and many others.
Thanks to my friend Nick Short, I’ve found another silky pen: that of Jane Thynne. Through her think I’ve found the answer to my question as to whether there can be a good fictional telling of the story of the rise of Nazism. Her character Clara Vine, a half-German half British Berlin-based actress in the pay of the British Secret Intelligence Service, provides a brilliant fictional evocation of the Nazi years. I’m already hooked and I’m only in Book 2. Thank you, Nick and Jane!
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