Chasing the American Dream


As the story begins, David Svehla is a US Army Captain during WW2. His unit discovers the Dora concentration camp, where Jewish POWs created tunnels to camouflage Germany’s secret V-2 rocket facility. A few ill POWs remain at the camp, but all else is deserted. After questioning the POWs, David learns of the terrible conditions and the special cruelty of the commandant, Gerhardt Adler, whom he later arrests. Ten years later, David discovers Adler working as a professor and living in Cleveland, Ohio. Hoping to expose his crimes, David plots Adler’s downfall. Facing their captors years later in their new ‘safer’ homeland was terrifying to Jews. And discovering that ‘Operation Paperclip’ brought German scientists here to speed progress in the space race, instead of holding them accountable for their war crimes, was devastating as well.

This original story illustrates the challenges faced by European Jews assimilating back into ‘normal’ life after WW2. The opening scene is heartbreaking, but shortly thereafter, the pacing slows considerably to provide necessary background information and to allow David to set the scene for Adler’s ‘takedown.’ The story drags here, but the remainder of the book is worth this pause, as the author transports the reader back to this time of chaos and political upheaval, making it feel so authentic! The author creates a plethora of characters that range from chilling to noble, and from traumatized to righteous. This book is obviously well-researched. Even though most of the book occurs in 1955, it feels relevant to the political climate of today. Lorelei Brush has written a story fueled by empathy and heart and the quest for justice at great cost.

Carey Sullivan