With the opening scene of The Bohemians...he masterfully establishes his trustworthiness as a narrator, which is crucial as we travel with him back to the 1930s and then on through the war. He weaves a detailed and meticulously researched tale about a pair of young German resisters that reads like a thriller ... We feel the couple’s triumphs intimately and, as the net tightens around them, their sorrows ... a tragic tale of defiance, espionage, love and betrayal ... Ohler employs the present tense throughout, imbuing his account with a sense of urgency and reminding us that the past in many ways remains our present.
Each chapter leaves readers wanting more and rooting for the ill-fated group. Harro is a particularly heroic and strongly idealistic figure, who, along with Arvid Harnack, actively and with some success thwarted some of the regime’s attempts at indoctrination ... Ohler’s gifts as a writer shine as he brings to life the personalities, motivations, and machinations of the Red Orchestra.
...the fascinating and tragic tale of a ragtag, idealistic crew of nonconformists hiding in plain sight while secretly working to fight the Nazis from within ... This unbelievable yet true story is richly detailed thanks to the participation of descendants of these courageous resistance fighters; with their help, Ohler succeeds in vividly thwarting the Nazis’ attempts to erase these heroes from history.
Drawing on a trove of unpublished and archival documents from the German Resistance Memorial Center, the Institute for Contemporary History, and German, British, Russian, and American national repositories, screenwriter, novelist, and journalist Ohler creates a taut, absorbing tale of anti-Nazi resistance. Told in the present tense, the narrative conveys a sense of immediacy and encroaching terror ... Ohler capably recounts the intrepid activities, alliances, and betrayals that led to sweeping arrests and executions ... Sharply drawn characters enliven a tragic history.
...[a] colorful yet lopsided account from German novelist and historian Ohler ... Unfortunately, Ohler glosses over potential reasons, including sexism, why Libertas’s contributions to the resistance movement were perceived as more 'superficial' than Harro’s. Still, this deeply researched and stylishly written account unearths an appealing yet overlooked chapter in WWII history. Espionage enthusiasts will be riveted.