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Striking Back: A Jewish Commando's War Against the Nazis Hardcover – 31 Jan 1998

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Presidio Press; First edition, first impression edition (31 Jan. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0891416293
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891416296
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 461,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 Jan. 1999
Format: Hardcover
One of the best written books about the invasion and the training leading up to it, from the aspect of Jewish teen refugees who were formed into a commando unit of the British army. No histrionics,just good writing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A Hidden Masterpiece about Ignored Heroes 24 Jan. 2002
By Arnold S. Trebach - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I have read this book about seven or eight times. When I finally met the author, Peter Masters, he asked in his usual humble style, "Why?" Here are my answers. It tells a largely ignored story in a literate, humane, and humble way. It tells how people who were victimized in outrageous ways were able to strike back and help defeat their oppressors. It also tells a story of which I (and all of the other World War II history buffs of my acquaintance)was totally igonorant. Finally, it is a story of courage in the face of outrageous horror that stands as a model of how we should react to terror today. In a nutshell: 87 young Jewish refugees were formed into an elite, secret Commando unit of the British Army; all spoke fluent, idiomatic German; all were required to hide their real identities and take on native British personas and names;they were trained in intelligence, reconnaissance, prisoner interrogation, and German tactics; they landed at D-Day, performed courageously thorughout the European war; 19 of the 87 died; the survivors lived to see the defeat of their tormentors. This is a fascinating story of human courage in the face of outrage. And the good guys win! Now my question: why hasn't this book become the subject of a movie or mini-series? In any event, order it now and read it, perhaps seven or eight times -- and tell all your friends to do the same.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A terrific read. Shows D Day as it really was. 21 Jan. 1999
By - Published on
Format: Hardcover
One of the best written books about the invasion and the training leading up to it, from the aspect of Jewish teen refugees who were formed into a commando unit of the British army. No histrionics,just good writing.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Gripping Story 14 May 2004
By Harvey Eisen - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Wonderful, real-life story of war and all its vagaries. This fellow wanted to strike back at the Nazis, and he certainly did by volunteering for the British army and becoming a parachute commando.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
WW II inside story 25 Mar. 2010
By Robert C. Sanders - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I'm not sure why it took me 12 years from the publication of this book to hear about it. This book is a great read, the kind that you don't want to put down. This is the story of a young Jewish man, who was tormented in his hometown(in Austria}, by Nazi bullies, in the years before WW II began. He fled to England to escape the inevitable horrific treatment by the Nazis. Throughout the book are stories of what happened to his and other families, during the war and the years leading up to it. This story is told from a perspective that most have never heard. I am amazed that a movie has not been made of this book. During their commando training they were housed in local families houses, and the stories are great. Read this book.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The oppressed fight back 1 Nov. 2011
By Alan Meyer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
If you've decided to read this book, you might want to skip my review and only read it later since I intend to reveal some of the things that happen in it. However I'm hoping that learning these things in advance won't spoil your appreciation of them in the book but maybe give you more reason to read it.

I read books like this partly as war/adventure stories but also and particularly as stories of fighting back against evil. I like to read about the oppressed turning on and defeating their oppressors, of Jews shooting at Nazis. Masters and his comrades did that and did it well.

Masters, born Peter Arany in Austria, escaped Vienna to England in 1938 with his mother and sister, his divorced father escaping separately, also to England. He was 16 and Jewish.

At the start of the war he and his father were interned as "enemy aliens." After all, they had come from a land that was then part of Germany. Eventually he was able to get out to join the army, but only in an unarmed "Pioneer" labor battalion. In 1943 he was finally selected for advanced commando training in a unit of mostly Jewish native German speakers. They underwent extraordinary physical training, running, mountain climbing, parachuting, hand to hand combat, as well as training in all kinds of weapons. Finally on D-Day he went ashore in Europe and fought on the front lines, usually in reconnaissance right up to the enemy lines, in attacks, and in prisoner interrogations. After a short rest in England his unit was back fighting in the Ardennes, the Rhine crossing, and the conquest of Germany.

Although M was 75 when this book was published it was written with much clarity and insight and a considerable appreciation of the viewpoint of his youth.

I read the book a couple of years ago but there are a number of episodes in it that stick in my memory. In one, one of the English trainers runs up a rock face that all of the men, already well trained themselves, thought was too smooth and steep to be climbed. Then he teaches all of the men to do it. If I remember correctly, this gallant and talented Englishman did not survive the war.

In another episode a German air raid on London finds a naked Masters in bed with a young lady staying in the house where the two of them were temporarily quartered. As the owner of the house, a proper Englishman, rushes upstairs to find out if his guests are okay, Masters manages to procure his machine gun and open the bedroom window, posing as the defender of the young lady and the house.

In another, Masters and a partner advance towards a German position in order to scout it out. They move far slower than a tortoise's pace. Unlike in the movies, maneuvering in the face of the enemy is something to be done with great care and alertness, not bravado. After acquiring some experience, he learns to bring a lot less ammunition with him, figuring that stealth, speed and brains, not lots of shooting, will preserve his life and win the day.

In another, Masters observes an American assault on a German position in Germany near the end of the war. Hoping to see a clever and well planned attack, he actually sees the kind of attack that the Royal Marines characterize as "bash on regardless". Men are killed that need not have been. After the Germans surrender Masters' officer confronts the German sergeant who leads his men out of their position. The officer smashes the German in the face, demanding to know why they killed so many Americans when they knew that the war was lost, that their position was lost, and that they were going to surrender anyway.

There were also a number of episodes where Masters was employed in interrogating Germans. All were surprised at his excellent German. But he shared no sympathy with them. They were his enemies in a way that was perhaps not as personal for most other combatants. In at least one he surprised a German who didn't know he spoke German by confronting him after hearing him make some remark to his pals.

Masters moved to the United States after the war and spent the rest of his life here. I would thank him for his service in the war and for writing this book to uplift us all with his experience.
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