What should you read this weekend? USA TODAY’s picks for book lovers include Sons and Soldiers, a new history about young German Jewish men who joined the U.S. Army and fought Hitler.
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; HarperCollins, 448 pp.; non-fiction
There’s a 10-second scene in the movie Saving Private Ryan in which an Army private tauntingly brandishes his Star of David medallion at captured German soldiers passing by and identifies himself as Juden — Jewish.
It’s a brief but haunting scene, forcing the viewer to wonder what was it like for Jewish soldiers to fight the Germans.
Sons and Soldiers provides one answer.
Bruce Henderson crafts a riveting non-fiction account of young Jewish men who were sent to America by their families to escape Nazi persecution. These sons became U.S. citizens and some volunteered to fight.
Sons and Soldiers opens in Germany in 1938 with the Nazis in power and escalating the brutality and violence directed toward Jews. The book focuses on a group of young German Jews, the terrible hardships they and their families endure, and how the youths finally make their way to America.
Many of the arrivals were mistrusted as enemy aliens after arriving in the U.S. With their German accents, the young refugees who volunteered for military service were often viewed with suspicion and shunted into non-combatant roles.
That was until the U.S. military realized their potential as intelligence specialists.
USA TODAY says ***½ out of four stars. “A spellbinding account of extraordinary men at war.”
Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero; Doubleday, 336 pp.; fiction
Former child super-sleuths and a dog reunite to revisit their most famous case, the Sleepy Lake monster in the mining town of Blyton Hills, Ore.
USA TODAY says ***½ stars. “Filled with high jinks both terrorizing and hilarious.”
Edward VII: The Prince of Wales and the Women He Loved; Catharine Arnold; St. Martin’s Press, 250 pp.; non-fiction
A new biography on the many mistresses of Queen Victoria’s heir, the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, among them Alice Keppel, the great-grandmother of Duchess Camilla of Cornwall.
USA TODAY says ***½ stars. “Focuses deliciously on the women who shared the scandalously plentiful sex life of Queen Victoria’s eldest son.”
Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002 by David Sedaris; Little, Brown, 528 pp.; non-fiction
The humorist’s eccentric existence takes center stage in the pages of his diary.
USA TODAY says ***½ stars. “Enthralling…Wickedly funny.”
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt; Atlantic Monthly Press, 328 pp.; fiction
Debut novel peers inside one very dysfunctional 19th century family, that of infamous accused murderess Lizzie Borden.
USA TODAY says ***½ stars. “Everything about Schmidt’s novel is hauntingly, beautifully off. It’s a creepy and penetrating work, even for a book about Lizzie Borden.”
Contributing reviewers: George Petras, Brian Truitt, Maria Puente, David Holahan, Steph Cha