Helen Fry's book weaves together diaries, interviews and army records of German and Austrian nationals, mostly Jewish refugees who had fled Nazi Germany, who fought for the British in the European theatre of the second world war. As such it is an interesting and informative summary of those sources and a useful jumping off point for anyone who wishes to delve more deeply into those archives. It is also an important contribution to the summation and preservation of a genuine people's history of the second world war.
However, I did find the narrative a little linear and formulaic; the book is organised into chapters according to branch of service, i.e. there is a chapter on the non-combatant pioneer corps, another on the infantry, another on the navy etc and within each chapter a number of case studies chronologically narrate the experience of an individual solider from enlistment to discharge. In this liner focus on case studies, Fry's structure does not focus on issues or themes and thus interesting questions such as allegations of war crimes on the part of Jewish units in the Normandy campaign (see Anthony Beevor's D-Day: The Battle for Normandy
) are not examined; these allegations may be of little substance, but I feel that they should have been addressed here.
In summary, I think Helen Fry has done some excellent archival research but that this book reads more like a refined set of notes than a fully developed analytical narrative. That said, I think that the material pulled together here will prove an excellent starting point from which to write that broader narrative.