Hitler's Generals in America -- Nazi POWs and Allied Military Intelligence by Derek R. Mallett, UKentucky Press '13, $35, 264 pages, ASIN #0813142512. Index, bibliography, notes, b&w images sprinkled through text.
In his new book, historian Derek R. Mallett relates one of the more bizarre sagas in World War II history. "Plush accommodations, walks in the gardens, and serving staff are not usually considered normal amenities for prisoners of war," he writes. "But for German generals captured by Allied forces and held in British 'camps,' this was exactly what was expected."
"While the British government was housing officers in large country mansions -- even using enlisted German soldiers as servants and orderlies --," according to Mallett, "the Americans were less interested in maintaining the perceived class distinctions between the German officers and their men."
Why such favoritism, you ask, to a military responsible for murdering six million Jews in the Holocaust? "British officials viewed their high-ranking prisoners of war as assets for intelligence gathering, spying on the officers in their custody and sometimes becoming their confidants in order to obtain information," the author says. "Unlike the British, the Americans did not feel compelled to provide their prisoners of war with the extra comforts that the German officers thought entitled by their rank and status."
Author Derek R. Mallett is a World War II historian at the Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command.
New Labor in New York -- Precarious Workers and the Future of the Labor Movement, Edited by Ruth Milkman and Ed Ott, Cornell UPress '14 paperback. 352 pages, ASIN #0801479371. Index, bibliography, contributors, notes, b&w images sprinkled sparsely through text.
"Obituaries for the U.S. labor movement have been a perennial in both academic and journalistic commentary since the 1970s, when declining union membership first attracted widespread attention," writes sociologist/author Ruth Milkman. "Indeed, union density has been in free fall for decades.
"By 2012, only 11.2 per cent of U.S. wage and salary workers, and 6.6 per cent of those in the private sector. were union members. As recently as 1973, the figures were 24.0 per cent and 24.2 per cent, respectively....already far below the mid-1950s peak of about 33 per cent. In the public sector, union density remains much higher (35.9% in 2012), and has been relatively stable over recent decades, even as the gap between public and private sector unionization rates has widened steadily."
Thanks to the "worker center movement," that trend could be, if not reversed, at least slowed. In their Introduction, the authors cite "two community-based centers in New York (along with three more in other parts of the country) oriented toward recent immigrants employed in the burgeoning nonunion sector of the garment industry." Just as unions did in the early 20th century, they began "to offer nonunion immigrants English classes, skills training, and immigration counseling in the new centers."
The authors break their narrative into four sections, each containing several essays from academics in such fields as history, sociology, political science, anthropology, and labor studies, on such topics as union organizing, immigrant workers, living wage campaigns, street vendors, community action, and domestic workers' bills of rights.
About the authors: Ruth Milkman teaches sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center and is academic director of CUNY's Murphy Labor Institute. Ed Ott lectures at CUNY's Murphy Labor Institute and is former executive director of the New York City Central Labor Council.
A Very Principled Boy -- The Life of Duncan Lee, Red Spy and Cold Warrior by Mark A. Bradley, BasicBooks '14, $29.99, 348 pages, ASIN #0465030092. Index, bibliography, notes, grouping of glossy b&w images.
From the dust jacket:
"Duncan Chaplin Lee was a Rhodes Scholar, patriot, and descendant of one of America's most distinguished families -- and possibly the best-placed mole ever to infiltrate U.S. intelligence operations. In A Very Principled Boy, intelligence expert and former CIA officer Mark A. Bradley traces the tangled roots of Lee's betrayal and reveals his harrowing struggle to stay one step ahead of America's spy hunters during and after World War II.
"Exposed to leftist politics while studying at Oxford, Lee became a committed, albeit covert, member of the Communist Party. After following 'Wild Bill' Donovan to the newly-formed Office of Strategic Services, Lee rose quickly through the ranks of the U.S. intelligence service -- and just as quickly gained value as a communist spy. As one of the chief aides to the head of the OSS, Lee was uniquely well placed to pass sensitive information to his Soviet handlers, including the likely timeframe of the D-Day invasion and the names of OSS personnel under investigation for suspected communist affiliations."
Author Mark A. Bradley is a former CIA intelligence officer currently serving as an attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice. He holds an M.A. from Oxford University and a J.D. from the University of Virginia and lives in Arlington, VA.
The Wives of Los Alamos -- A Novel by Tarashea Nesbit, Bloomsbury '14, $25, 233 pages, ASIN #1620405032.
The protagonists in Tarashea Nesbit's new novel are military wives whose husbands have been assigned to posts in New Mexico. They were no strangers to secrecy, but in Los Alamos, their lips were sealed even about what their husbands were doing at the lab.
As their mates worked on construction of what they'd later call the atom bomb, the author writes, "babies were born, friendships were forged, children grew up, and Los Alamos gradually transformed into a real community: one that was strained by what they couldn't say out loud or in letters, and by the freedom they didn't have."
In a brief excerpt of the book, the wives reflect on the intimacies they shared and not only with each other:
"We felt close enough to our maids to make confessions, to tell them things we would not tell one another. We believed our maids felt equally close to us -- we did not think we had disrupted their lives or uprooted them from their homes. We thought the Indians, especially, loved their daily trips to this other world.
"The extra money was more than they had ever had, and with it they could afford new additions to houses, new furniture, and even a few inside bathrooms. Some of our husbands wired the pueblo for electricity, and soon refrigerators and appliances appeared. When we were invited to the pueblo, many of us were still rather shocked to find Grand Rapids furniture, brass bedsteads, soda pop, and ordinary dishes in the Indian houses."
Tarashea Nesbit was born in Dayton, OH, one of the lesser-known Manhattan Project locations. She has a M.F.A. degree from Washington University and teaches creative writing and literature at the University of Denver.