The Ratline: Book summary and reviews of The Ratline by Philippe Sands

The Ratline

The Exalted Life and Mysterious Death of a Nazi Fugitive

by Philippe Sands

The Ratline by Philippe Sands X
The Ratline by Philippe Sands
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2021
    448 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

From the author of the internationally acclaimed, award-winning East West Street: A tale of Nazi lives, mass murder, love, cold war espionage, a mysterious death in the Vatican--and "the Ratline," the Nazi escape route to Peron's Argentina.

Baron Otto von Wächter, Austrian lawyer, husband, father, high Nazi official, senior SS officer, former governor of Galicia during the war, creator and overseer of the Krakow ghetto, indicted after as a war criminal for the mass murder of more than 100,000 Poles, hunted by the Soviets, the Americans, the British, by Simon Wiesenthal, on the run for three years, from 1945 to 1948.

Philippe Sands pieces together, in riveting detail, Wächter's extraordinary, shocking story. Given full access to the Wächter family archives--journals, diaries, tapes, and more--and with the assistance of the Wächters' son Horst, who believes his father to have been a "good man," Sands writes of Wächter's rise through the Nazi high command, his "blissful" marriage and family life as their world was brought to ruin, and his four-year flight to escape justice--to the Tirol, to Rome, and the Vatican; given a new identity, on his way to a new life via "the Ratline" to Perón's Argentina, the escape route taken by Eichmann, Mengele, and thousands of other Nazis. Wächter's escape was cut short by his mysterious, shocking death in Rome, in the midst of the burgeoning Cold War (was he being recruited in postwar Italy by the Americans and the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps or by the Soviet NKVD or by both; or was he poisoned by one side or the other, as his son believes--or by both?).

An extraordinary discovery, told up-close through access to a trove of family correspondence between Wächter and his wife--part historical detective story, part love story, part family memoir, part Cold War espionage thriller.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[A] rich, compulsively readable book...Its rewards are many, and many-faceted...Sands is a reliable narrator—gracious, wise, and intrepid." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"[G]ripping...A detailed, well-constructed biography of a Nazi mass murderer and his escape from justice." - Kirkus Reviews

"[A] real-life thriller... A cast of characters at the beginning of the book, along with photographs, illustrations, and maps throughout, give context to the historical details. Full of twists and turns, cover-ups and complicity, this gripping historical thrill ride will appeal to fans of John le Carré." - Library Journal

"Extraordinary...fast-paced...with enough twists and turns to keep the reader grimly absorbed, The Ratline is an electrifying true crime." - Evening Standard (UK)

"Poignant...shocking...extraordinarily moving." - Daily Express (UK)

"A gripping adventure, an astounding journey of discovery, and a terrifying and timely portrait of evil in all its complexity, banality, self-justification, and madness. A stunning achievement." - Stephen Fry

"A triumph of research and brilliant storytelling." - Antony Beevor

"Hypnotic, shocking, and unputdownable." - John le Carré

This information about The Ratline shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Philippe Sands

Philippe Sands is an international lawyer and, since 2018, the president of English PEN. He is a frequent commentator on CNN and the BBC World Service. In 2003 he was appointed a Queen's Counsel. He lives in London.

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