Curmudgeonalia
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December 6, 2006

Ordinary Heroes

Scott Turow – ISBN – 9781595230324

This is a blockbuster novel; probably Turow’s best, which says a lot. He explores the savagery of war, placing in its midst the humanity and heroism of many of its participants. Some human madness as well, precipitated by the encounters with death and destruction hourly—daily—for weeks on end, and in the case of one principal, for over a decade.

He possesses the gift of descriptive language, exquisitely fashioned into this narrative, making it easy to experience it as if you were there . . . without the fury or the fright. The account is written by the journalist son of a WWII veteran, based upon research precipitated by the father’s notes which were discovered after his death.

The principal protagonist is a JAG lawyer who is searching for a rogue OSS agent, and is temporarily injected into combat in the Argonne, during Europe’s coldest winter in half a century. At Bastogne his regiment of 5,000 experienced 4500 killed and wounded: 90%! They endured in the only ways they could, and Turow describes them in horrific detail.

The title originates in the ordinariness of the combatants, not excluding the German citizens in their destroyed villages, off put by both sides in the conflict. Their lives were shattered, as well.

He describes the disbelief of the staggering enormity . . . the magnitude of the cruelty and brutality of the death camps as he is party to the liberation of Balingen, where, ostensibly, his father meets his mother—a captive therein.

While the discussions of combat and death are gruesomely correct, the elaborate tale builds toward the end, culminating in the gripping discovery of the nobility and the simplicity of the total affection and commitment of his mother and father, who have kept unimaginable secrets from the family for fifty years.

It is quite a yarn, and grabs you from page one. It doesn’t let go till the end, which, at least in my case, leaves you tearful and glad you spent the time to read it. Not least it is a graphic reminder of the cataclysmic nature of war, and its effect upon people . . . for a lifetime.

Posted by respeto at December 6, 2006 3:24 PM