The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006).
I just finished this wonderful book by Kati Marton. Marton was an NPR and ABC news correspondent, who was widowed twice. Her first marriage was to ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, with whom she had two children. Her second was to Richard Holbrooke, who at the time of his death was the Obama administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. I was turned on to this book when I read her newest one entitled Paris: A Love Story (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012).
This book centers upon Budapest, Hungary, which is her native country. She dedicates it to her parents, who were both journalists in the World Wars and beyond.
The nine Jews the book features are:
four scientists – Edward Teller, John von Neumann, Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner
two motion picture directors and producers – Michael Curtiz, Alexandra Korda
two photographers – Robert Capa, Andre Kertesz
one writer – Arthur Koestler
The stories of all nine are brought to life as I have previously never experienced it. The book is non-fiction, of course, but it is almost novel-like in its appearance and presentation. For example, Capa was known as the greatest war photographer of all time. He was the first photographer to go ashore at D-Day in Normandy. Curtiz directed Casablanca, which Marton says “is still the most popular, the most familiar,. the most discused, and the most dissected romantic film in history” (p. 145). Koestler wrote Darkness at Noon, which “is the story of the first half of the century, in which the old institutions – social, economic, and spiritual – have broken down” (p. 135), and was the most important anticommunist novel ever written. All four scientists discussed in the book were heavily involved in either advances toward the computer age or the nuclear age, where progress in both were deeply entrenched in politics and personal and professional jealousies.
We can’t do this one at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas. It is too old, and it is not an exclusive business book. So, it does not fit our current context. But that shouldn’t stop you from reading it.
First, however, you have to find it. Unfortunately, the book is out of print. To obtain it, you must visit secondary sellers. But, if you look hard enough, you will find it and be rewarded with an amazingly readable and exciting work.