Liberated: A Novel of Germany, 1945
The heroic image of American GIs depicted in the movies has taken a beating in recent years. Authors Giles MacDonogh, William I. Hitchcock, Kenneth D. Alford, and Mary Louise Roberts, to name but four, have injected realism into what was hitherto an idealized narrative of the “good war” fought by the “greatest generation.”
This surge of scholarship has acted in turn as midwife to the birth of a genre that can only be described as Occupation Fiction, wherein authors endeavor to shine a light on the dark side of liberation. With the publication of Liberated: A Novel of Germany, 1945, however, Steve Anderson fails in his attempt. I say this not least because he is weak on characterization. Others could point to a predictable plot, but this would be unfair since the author bases his fictional narrative admirably on the facts pertaining to the Hungarian Gold Train.
Works of historical fiction are better when penned by historians like Anderson, to be sure, and I am confident that he will produce a much richer tapestry on his next outing. In the interim, however, interested readers are directed to Rhidian Brook’s The Aftermath, a good if not great book.
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