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Night of Flames by Douglas Jacobson

Douglas Jacobson’s Night of Flames is a gritty “spy” novel set during World War II beginning in 1939 during the invasion of Poland by the Nazis.  The main protagonists Anna and Jan Kopernik are separated by war and face near misses with the wrath of the Germans.  Anna joins the resistance in Belgium reluctantly, while Jan jumps at the opportunity to help MI6 on a secret mission in Poland with the hope that he can find his wife.

“Anna’s eyes snapped open and she sat bolt upright.  The shrill sound blasted into her brain, penetrating through the fog of sleep like an icy wind.  She blinked and looked around the dark room, trying to focus on shadowy images as the sound wailed on and on.”  (Page 11)

Anna is in Poland with her friend, Irene, and her son when the bombings start in earnest, leaving them and their driver very few options on the way back to Krakow and her father, a professor at the local university.  Anna is hit by significant loss and constant worry about her husband, who’s career is with the Polish military.  Night of Flames is a fast-paced novel that pushed through the front lines and skulks in the shadows of the resistance.

“‘The best thing any of us can do is try and keep out of their way, and if you get stopped or challenged, be as cooperative as you can.’

‘So you’re telling us to act like house pets in our own city.'” (Page 65)

Jacobson’s no-nonsense writing style will place readers in the heart of the resistance, though some readers could get bogged down by the military strategy and direction, such as how the resistance used holes dug in the earth to hold lanterns that were lit to signal the Allies as to where to drop supplies.  Readers will either enjoy the detailed strategy or wish for a greater focus on the characters.  Anna is the most developed of the two protagonists, though Jacobson does give each nearly equal time through alternating chapters.  These chapters help build tension, leaving the reader in suspense as to whether they will ever be reunited.

Readers who enjoy learning about World War II and who enjoy spy novels will like this novel.  But Night of Flames is more than just a war novel; it is about how ordinary citizens can rise up to reclaim their homeland and their dignity in the face of adversity signifying an indelible human spirit.

Check out this video for Night of Flames:

I want to thank Douglas Jacobson, McBooks Press, and Pump Up Your Book Promotion for sending me a free copy of Night of Flames to review.  If you click on the title links, you’ll be taken to my Amazon Affiliate page, but there is no obligation to buy.

They’ve also kindly provided an additional copy for one reader of my blog from anywhere in the world.  To Enter:

1.  Leave a comment on this post.
2.  Check out the War Through the Generations blog and leave me a relevant comment here about something you read or learned.

3.  Blog, Tweet, and spread the word about the giveaway and leave a comment here.

Deadline is Nov. 4, 2009, at 11:59 PM EST

This marks the 7th book I’ve read for the WWII Reading Challenge.  Though I officially met my goal of reading 5 WWII-related books some time ago, I’ve continued to find them on my shelves and review them here.  I’m sure there will be more, stay tuned.