Summary and book reviews of Ordinary Heroes by Scott Turow

Ordinary Heroes

By Scott Turow

Ordinary Heroes
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  • Hardcover: Nov 2005,
    371 pages.
    Paperback: Oct 2006,
    512 pages.

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Book Summary

Stewart Dubinsky knew his father had served in World War II. And he'd been told how David Dubin (as his father had Americanized the name that Stewart later reclaimed) had rescued Stewart's mother from the horrors of the Balingen concentration camp. But when, after his father's death, he discovers a packet of wartime letters to a former fiancée and learns of his father's court-martial and imprisonment, he is plunged into the mystery of his family's secret history and is driven to uncover the truth about this enigmatic, distant man who always refused to talk about his war.

As he pieces together his father's past through military archives, letters, and, finally, notes from a memoir his father wrote in prison, secretly preserved by the officer who defended him, Stewart starts to assemble a dramatic and baffling chain of events. He learns how Dubin, a JAG lawyer attached to Patron's Third Army and eager for combat experience, got more than he bargained for when he was ordered to arrest Robert Martin, a wayward OSS officer who, despite his spectacular bravery with the French Resistance, appeared to be acting on orders other than his commander's.

In pursuit of Martin, Dubin and his sergeant had parachuted into Bastogne just as the Battle of the Bulge reached its apex. Pressed into the leadership of a desperately depleted rifle company, the men were forced to abandon their quest for Martin and his fiery, maddeningly elusive comrade, Gita Lodz, as they fought for their lives through the ferocious winter battle that would determine Europe's fate.

Reconstructing the terrible events and agonizing choices his father faced on the battlefield, in the courtroom, and in love, Stewart gains a closer understanding of his past, of his father's character, and of the brutal nature of war itself.

1.
STEWART: ALL PARENTS KEEP SECRETS


All parents keep secrets from their children. My father, it seemed, kept more than most.

The first clue came when Dad passed away in February 2003 at the age of eighty-eight, after sailing into a Bermuda Triangle of illness—heart disease, lung cancer, and emphysema—all more or less attributable to sixty years of cigarettes. Characteristically, my mother refused to leave the burial details to my sister and me and met the funeral director with us. She chose a casket big enough to require a hood ornament, then pondered each word as the mortician read out the proposed death announcement.

"Was David a veteran?" he asked. The undertaker was the cleanest-looking man I'd ever seen, with lacquered nails, shaped eyebrows, and a face so smooth I suspected electrolysis.

"World War II," barked Sarah, who at the age of fifty-two still raced to answer before me.

The funeral director showed us...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
The questions and discussion topics that follow are designed to enhance your reading of Scott Turow's Ordinary Heroes. We hope they will enrich your experience of this mesmerizing novel and the frontlines it brings to life.

Courts of law have set the stage in each of Scott Turow's bestselling books. With Ordinary Heroes, Turow introduces an attorney who is operating in a new setting and period—on the killing fields of World War II's European theater, under highly unusual circumstances. A JAG lawyer assigned to a case in which the enemy may prove to be his own government, with no law office and no research library, David Dubin is ordered to bring a fellow soldier to justice.

Ordinary Heroes is narrated by...
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Reviews

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Moving away from books, both fiction and non-fiction, centering on the courtroom, but keeping a character we've met in previous books (Kindle County journalist Stewart Dubin) Scott Turow tries his hand at a World War II story, inspired by his father's own military experience.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

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Media Reviews
The New York Times - Janet Maslin

Ordinary Heroes works best through vivid, anecdotal descriptions: authentic-sounding stories of foxhole ordeals, battlefield casualties and a particularly terrifying parachute drop. Even when expressed stiltedly ("and tears still would not come, leaving me in a state of constipated agitation"), these memories have immediacy. The author's anguish about war is unmistakably real.

The Washington Post - Stephen Amidon

This inner drama, rather than the battle scenes and action sequences, makes the novel worth reading, leaving the reader with a lasting sense of the corrosive effects of war on even the most civilized souls.

Booklist - Allison Block

While Turow's fans might prefer the lively verbal skirmishes that suffuse his legal fare, the author's action sequences (like that white-knuckle free fall onto the battlefront) do plenty to quicken the pulse.

Kirkus Reviews

While some of the writing succumbs to war-is-hell cliche and there are passages of sentimental dialogue that suggest flashbacks from 1940s battle movies, the story of shifting allegiances, divided loyalties, compromised principles and primal instincts is as engrossing as any of Turow's legal thrillers.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Turow makes the leap from courtroom to battlefield effortlessly.

Library Journal - Stacey Alesi

An extraordinary, unforgettable novel, which Turow notes was inspired by his own father's military experiences. Highly recommended.

Reader Reviews
Judy LaBoda

Ordinary Hero's
Such a compelling novel! It was so easy to get drawn into the circumstances and feel how Dubin was feeling! One of the best of Turow's novels.

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Beyond the Book

About The Author: Despite publishing about ten books, including his six legal thrillers (Reversible Errors, Personal Injuries etc), Turow continues to work as an attorney majoring on white collar criminal litigation and pro bono work, including cases involving the death penalty. 

He was born in 1949 in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated with high honors from Amherst College in 1970 and then attended the Stanford University Creative Writing Center from 1970-72.  He stayed at Stanford...

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