PositiveThe Wall Street JournalRoberts didn’t turn up a fifth column with ties to Hitler’s regime, but what he did find was shocking. With a modicum of effort, he found apparently ordinary British citizens who, beneath the surface, were seething with hostility toward their countrymen and were eager to aid the Germans if given the chance. In Agent Jack, Roberts’s story and theirs is told in full for the first time by Robert Hutton, who brings to the task an appealing mix of accessibility and research rigor ... Mr. Hutton makes adroit use of archival sources, including government files made public as recently as 2014, and he fashions a compelling tale. A shortcoming of his account is that his nonlinear approach to setting out the story, combined with his tendency to be stingy with dates, makes the narrative tricky to follow at times. Still, he has illuminated a fascinating and often appalling side of the war at home.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal\"With the aid of diaries, memoirs and his own interviews, Mr. Holland gives a detailed, crewman’s-eye view of combat from inside the British, American and German aircraft during the months leading up to Big Week and during the week itself. For those hoping for war-movie stuff, rest assured that the enemy fighters do come in at 6 o’clock, the guns do hammer, the sun does glint and the ’chutes do blossom in the sky. Still, it’s a serious and important story as well as a dramatic one, and Mr. Holland tells it with verve and authority. Among the fruits of Mr. Holland’s research are his re-creations of the dangerous little worlds inhabited by the participants—most of them in their late teens or early 20s—while they were aloft ... Mr. Holland also re-creates the inner lives of the participants, from the joy of American crewmen in seeing comrades returning from the last of their required 25 missions (it gave hope to the others that they might live to the finish as well) to a Luftwaffe pilot, having bailed out, \'marvelling at what a wonderful invention the parachute was\' ... In all, Mr. Holland relates, U.S. and British bombers during Big Week rained down 22,000 tons of bombs on the German aircraft industry and surrounding areas.\
MixedThe Wall Street Journal...a slow-paced but still engaging account of the doomed journey, highlighting what he sees as its link to the ideology behind westward expansion ... Mr. Wallis tells the story well and paints interesting portraits of the characters to the extent allowed by the historical record. One minor problem is the book’s occasional purple prose ... A more troubling matter stems from Mr. Wallis’s effort to give the book a Big Historical Idea—a tricky task, since the disaster had no discernible effect on history, least of all on California migration. The idea he settles on is a tortured parallel between the Donner Party and Manifest Destiny.