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The One Man by Andrew Gross

The One Man is a standalone novel by the author Andrew Gross, a book which takes us back to the second World War and one man’s efforts to rescue someone who can literally change the course of history.

Nathan Blum is a Polish Jew who left his country with a very important mission: to bring out of the country a very valuable sacred Jewish script so that it doesn’t fall in the Nazis hands, who would just destroy it.

He has always been good at hiding and finding hidden spots and pathways in his neighborhood in order to escape the Nazis, so when his dad entrusts him with this urgent task, he has no choice but to leave his family and country behind, even if it almost kills him to do it because he feels he lets his family, including his sister, down by not being able to protect them from what awaits them.

He safely flees the country and ends up in the US, eventually finding work in Washington, DC as an intelligence officer no less. His work is important, but he knows that he can do so much more than shuffling papers.

Alfred Meinl is a physics professor who is working on the atomic bomb and is generally involved in the early stages of quantum mechanics alongside with other physicists like Niels Bohr and Robert Oppenheimer. When he is taken by the Nazis to a concentration camp, specifically to Auschwitz, all his research papers get destroyed in the fire and his wife and daughter are separated from him. He knows that he will never ever see them again.

He is literary the one man who can finish the atomic bomb ahead of the Germans and Russians, and his knowledge is sorely needed by the allies, which would give them the ability to end the second World War soon.

Well, Nathan Bloom did complain several times that his talents were not put to good use by him sorting through messages and information all day long, so when he is given the daring mission to go back to Poland, enter the Auschwitz concentration camp and find and bring out Alfred Meinl, all this in only 72 hours, he knows that he might have just gotten more than he bargained for.

The story follows Bloom parachuting down to a nearby forest and his tale of actually finding Alfred Meinl and his struggle to complete his mission. It is a historical fiction which takes us back to the horrors of the Nazis occupied Poland and all the evil they inflicted on the thousands upon thousands of Jews, who all they ever wanted was to live their lives in peace.

I have to admit that at times I had to stop from reading, especially during Bloom’s time in Auschwitz. Some descriptions of what was going on there were a bit hard to stomach, and yes, I am one of the people who love reading gory and scary thrillers with sick and twisted serial killers. Yet, this was something else entirely. It was tough to digest, even though I always had to pick the book again to see what was coming next.

The ending was a real surprise, and while I felt sad, I was also left in a way satisfied. To say that Bloom successfully accomplished his mission is an understatement. He did so much more than that.

I also enjoyed reading about the teenage genius chess player whom Alfred got so fond of in the camp. And Greta, so full of humanity when everything around her was rotten to the core.

At the end of the book the author gave his reasons for writing this story, and indeed this was a story that needed to be written and be heard. It is an ode to everyone who died in concentration camps or survived to never want to talk about those times ever again.

Overall this book is a must read for anyone who loves a great thriller, a wonderful historical adventure, and especially enjoys reading about the WWII.

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