‘Sons and Sol­diers,’ by Bruce Hen­der­son

Forward Magazine - - Contents - By Ju­lia M. Klein

SONS AND SOL­DIERS: THE UN­TOLD STORY OF THE JEWS WHO ES­CAPED THE NAZIS AND RE­TURNED WITH THE U.S. ARMY TO FIGHT HITLER

By Bruce Hen­der­son

Wil­liam Mor­row, 448 pages, $28.99

As the Nazi noose pulled ever

tighter in Ger­many, many Jewish fam­i­lies pri­or­i­tized send­ing their el­dest sons to free­dom. A few years later, some of these sons – in­spired by both pa­tri­o­tism and the de­sire for re­venge – em­braced as­sign­ments in U.S. Army in­tel­li­gence, where their knowl­edge of Ger­man lan­guage and cul­ture proved in­valu­able.

Bruce Hen­der­son’s un­fail­ingly ad­mir­ing “Sons and Sol­diers” pays homage to their achieve­ments. His sources in­clude a hand­ful of these so-called Ritchie Boys, as well as their de­scen­dants, their mem­oirs and a doc­u­men­tary about them. At times, his nar­ra­tive — sim­ply writ­ten for a gen­eral au­di­ence — achieves a rare in­ti­macy, putting read­ers in fox­holes and in­ter­ro­ga­tion rooms.

Hen­der­son di­vides his story into three sec­tions. The first de­scribes his pro­tag­o­nists’ early lives and their es­capes from Nazi Ger­many. The sec­ond de­tails their U.S. mil­i­tary ca­reers, fo­cus­ing on their re­source­ful, oc­ca­sion­ally quasi-comic ef­forts to pry vi­tal in­for­ma­tion from cap­tured Ger­man sol­diers. The fi­nal, briefest sec­tion cov­ers the war’s af­ter­math, in­clud­ing the men’s

COUR­TESY FAM­ILY OF FRED HOWARD

LUCKY STRIKE:

Ritchie Boy Fred Howard.

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