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on 2 January 2011
It's winter 1944 and Max Kaspar is pulled from the Eastern Front for a role in a secret mission. Before the war Max was an actor and having lived and worked in New York, and as an English speaker, he is considered ideal for the task at hand. The role - masquerading as an enemy US officer, his aim - to use the opportunity to escape the war and return to the States. Having been trained and put into a team Max finds himself caught up in the Battle of the Bulge, and his plan goes far from smoothly.

This book is based on the true story of German false flag operations but the characters are largely fictional. I'm not very knowledgeable about WWII and what happened where and when but from the authors note at the end of the book and what I do know it seems very rooted in fact.

I thought this book was amazing, the author's descriptions are so evocative I could almost feel the chill in the air and really imagine the discomfort the soldiers were enduring. I haven't read many war books, but particularly few written from a German perspective. In the end it didn't really matter as one of the things that comes strongly across is that it doesn't matter which side you are fighting for, the soldiers are people and the casualties are all human.

I'd hate to include any spoilers so had best not say too much more, other than that I will now be hunting down other work by the author, it was a fantastic, well written read and I'll be highly recommending it to family and friends.
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on 25 February 2011
World War II and the German false flag operation are historical facts, but Anderson takes poetic license with the details, introducing us to an imaginary German soldier known as Max Kaspar. His geniality and optimism seem out of place in the middle of a battlefield, and yet the author depicts him with just enough hardness to make his persona believable. When an impossible mission is set before him, it is easy to wish for his personal success and to cheer him on anxiously, even with an ever-present awareness of how the war finally ends.

The characters in this novel are well-drawn. While some personalities may touch upon stereotypes, the author adds enough minor detail and emotional range to make his creations human and accessible. Flashbacks into Max's past help the reader to understand his present mindset, and subtle nuances in the dialogue reveal more about motives and suspicions than the conversations appear to discuss. The author's attention to speech and word choice creates consistency and clearly distinguishes each character from the next. Even as Max slowly loses himself in his role, the reader never loses his handle on Max.

More often than not, The Losing Role plays fast and loose with the basic rules of grammar -- and it works. The sentences, much like Max's thoughts, alternate between well-structured and half-formed, complex and simple. Sections of stream-of-consciousness writing allow us to access the protagonist's mind, while more formally written passages convince us that the author is in full command of his pen. The sprinkling of German adds authenticity, and the combination of Anderson's writing style and well-chosen descriptions gives us the sense that we are actually present in POW camps, icy woods, or an old, abandoned theater.

As an espionage thriller, The Losing Role succeeds in capturing and maintaining a reader's attention; the constant, underlying tension practically demands it. The pacing is outstanding, as are the explanations of "tells" that give the German spies away. War novels are not usually my genre of choice. Even so, Anderson's book renders that preference wholly irrelevant through wit, charm, and a well-crafted plot. I look forward to the next installment in this innovative series.

Stimulated Outlet Book Reviews
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on 2 March 2011
I was only a schoolboy during WW2 but I have never forgotten the feelings of those days. We were all quite relaxed and optimistic after the success of D Day and the battle of Normandy but nervousness came back with the Battle of the Bulge. The daily maps in the newspapers showing the German advances back towards the low countries caused feelings of desperation (no TV news then). So I looked forward to this book especially seeing that it had received 5 stars from all previous reviewers. I agree it is a good read and definitely worth buying but, on the downside, I don't think it captures the grim reality too well and I thought some of the flashbacks to previous times didn't fit into the story as neatly as they should. I don't want to give the story away but, having worn military uniform myself, I found it hard to believe the descriptions of how the German infiltrators were "double" dressed and remained like that for such a long period. But I assume this is correct since the author must have found it by his research.
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on 2 June 2015
A very good read and well researched. As a German speaker I am delighted when I read an English-language book in which the German bits are got right (it's rare!). The book kept my attention throughout. One thing that struck me was the author's fine evocation of the smells of war. I've never smelt them, but I now feel I know what some of them might have been like.

Quibbles: there was no spring offensive in spring 1914, since the Great War hadn't yet started at that point and the Hamburg fire storm did not occur in 1941, nor had Goebbel's "total war" been announced at that stage. I also don't understand how the protagonist could be called up in the summer of 1944 and already be on the Eastern Front by the end of June.

The author is American and writes very good standard English, but I was a bit dismayed to read in the narrative (not just in speech) the slangy forms "most" for "almost" and "a couple" plus noun without "of" in between. However none of these minor matters diminished my enjoyment of the book.
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on 14 February 2013
We are proud to announce that The Losing Role by Steve Anderson is a B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree. This tells a reader that this book is well worth a reader's time and money!
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on 17 April 2016
Wow, what a great story. This is definitely a hard book to put down once you get started. Steve Anderson really knows how to write a historical thriller that is both entertaining and captivating. The standout in this Authors books are his characters, and the background and attention to detail he puts into each one of them. You can understand that Max Kasper would rather be an Actor than go to war (who wouldn’t). It’s probably only his acting skills which get him through some of the situations he has to face. In reading each one of Steve Anderson’s books I’ve learnt a bit more of WWII history, but more so because of his in depth descriptions I could visualise the horrors of war, and the aftermath. If you haven’t read one of his books, then I would highly recommend you do.
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on 14 December 2010
This is an excellent book. I came across it by accident, and read the sample first, being a little wary about a self-published book by an unknown author. I needn't have worried - it's a well written book, and it's clear to anyone with knowledge of the period and operation depicted that the author didn't skimp on research.
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on 14 October 2011
I would rather have paid full price for a good read than the low price for this. I found it stilted and with little to either believe or keep my interest.
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