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VINE VOICEon 24 July 2011
We are told that the best stories come from people that write about what they know. Therefore, if this story seems insightful it may be because Frederic Forsyth worked for Reuters reporting from London and he wrote the story in hotels from Germany to Austria. He mixes the real, not so real and the plausible to make you think "what if."
I do not want to say much as the fun is being surprised during the reading. However compared to the movie the book is much more in-depth with more characters and details. Manny times you think Forsyth is going off on some tangent and not focusing on the main story; then with out warning the information makes sense later on. One example to look for is the quick encounter with military maneuvers where he describes the tank sergeant.
It is the night of the John F. Kennedy assassination. Peter Miller, freelance reporter in the process of chasing ambulances is disappointed by the apparent suicide of a person of no consequence.
Turns out the dead man is holocaust survivor Salomon Tauber; he left behind a diary of his experiences. Miller reads this diary and seems particularly interested in some details. This inspires him to do a story on what happed to prominent people that where in the "National Socialist German Workers' Party". His quest puts him at odds with many people including an organization, O.D.E.S.S.A, (Organisation der ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen), that was designed to help the SS escape justice. He also encounters independent agents out for their own agenda. Then there is the MOSSAD. Everyone accuses Miller of having his own secret agenda and not just out for a story. Can they be right?
Be sure to also watch the movie with famous actors that actually fit the characters from the book. Naturally a lot of information had to cut out and some sequence changes to fit the media. We still get the full speech from Eduard Roschmann (Maximilian Schell)

The Odessa File Starring: Jon Voight, Maximilian Schell
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on 25 June 2013
Set in the early 1960's in West Germany with some scenes from Israel and Nasserite Egypt , this electrifying book has all the elements of a good historical spy novel - suspense,danger,action,human drama as well as a lot of food for thought.We come across a lot of interesting real figures from the time such as Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal and the head head of MOSSAD Meir Amit as well the evil psycopathic SS Officer Eduard Roschmann who in the novel is hunted by a young German journalist , Peter Miller We also read about statesmen and nation builders at the time such as West German Chancellors Konrad Adenauer and Ludwig Erhardt , Israeli leaders David Ben-Gurion , Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir as well the warlike Egyptian dictator Gamel Abdel Nasser.The novel itself begins with the news of the assasination of John F Kennedy But the ordinary grassroots characters too are equally believable from Millers simple but good hearted and beautiful girlfriend Sigrid Rahn to the Israeli agent Uri Ben Shaul alias Josef to doctors and nurses,civil servants ,secretaries and housemaids. The novel is largely based on a true story and includes several important lessons from history.It lays bare the satanic evil of the Nazi SS while also oulining that ordinary Germans are good people ,as described in the novel by excerpts from the diary of holocaust survivor Salomon Tauber which is a very instructive and insightful piece in itself.It also shows the high level of cooperation between Nazi exiles and Arab states in their evil plans to destroy the tiny state of Israel The attempt to do so still continues today and should be exposed for what it is -naked anti-semitism and hatred
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 4 October 2005
Master thriller writer Forsyth delivers big-time in this story of an intrepid freelance journalist tracking down an ex-Nazi in postwar Germany. Grounded heavily in research and reality, the story is based upon the disappearance of hundreds of wanted SS war criminals. As plenty of historians have since documented, there were organized efforts to help wanted Nazis disappear, especially to South America (see, for example, Uki Goni's book The Real Odessa). Here, Forsyth imagines the Odessa, a well-funded organization of former SS men who are taking the reins of German industry as it rebuilds, and helping Egypt with rocket technology with which to destroy Israel.
One day freelance German photojournalist Peter Miller comes into possession of the diary of an old concentration camp survivor who has recently committed suicide. The diary details the man's physical and mental torture in Riga, and claims that the camp commandant is still alive and living in Germany. Miller is simultaneously appalled at the atrocities described and eager for a big scoop, and so sets out to track down SS Captain Roschman (the real life "Butcher of Riga"). He quickly discovers to his surprise that the newsmagazines aren't interested in the story, it's explained to him that no one wants to pay to read about horrors perpetrated on Jews in some other country.
Miller decides to proceed on his own, and the book turns into a kind of procedural thriller as he doggedly pursues sources of information across Germany and it starts to dawn on him that no one is particularly interested in hunting down ex-Nazis. The combination of former Nazi influence in the police, along with the the realpolitik of the situation (live ex-Nazis vote, dead Jews do not), mean that the official channels are largely window dressing. Turning to other sources, like Simon Wiesenthal, Miller eventually finds himself in the company of a vigilante group of Jews dedicated to eliminating ex-Nazis. They, and their Mossad masters, want him to infiltrate Odessa by posing as an former SS man. What he doesn't know is that Odessa is on to him, and has assigned their "cleaner" to take care of him.
The final part of the book is stuffed with high tension as Miller gets possession of a blockbuster piece of intelligence about the Odessa, and closer and closer to Roschman. Meanwhile, the SS killer gets closer and closer to Miller... It all culminates in a nail-biting finale with one of the best twists at the end I've ever come across. The core story is top-level thriller stuff, absolutely outstanding. I could have done without Miller's girlfriend character, who seemed to exist mainly as a bit of T&A and an attempt to give Miller a little dimension. I also could have done without the subplot involving the rockets for Egypt, as it distracted from the more interesting story of Miller's hunt. Still, these are minor quibbles about an outstanding book.
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The Kindle version was fine - there were no poor formatting or OCR errors, both of which sometimes occur in Kindle books.

This is a superb book. I read the second half in one sitting, which speaks volumes about the tension. I bought it to read on holiday, started reading it before then and just couldn't put it down.

I am not going to describe the plot - I find it a real skill trying to read reviews to determine whether or not to buy a book without stumbling on a spoiler.

I strongly suggest that you do not read the Wikipedia entry for the book until after you have finished it because it puts a critical spoiler very early on in the summary of the plot. I read the Wikipedia entry on finishing the book and was pleased I did not read it any earlier.

Since finishing this book I googled 'Best Frederick Forsyth books', looking for my replacement holiday book. I suggest you do not (or if you do, you do not read what is written in the various summaries) as the ultra brief two sentence entry for this book on one of those websites manages to include the same critical spoiler as in the Wikipedia entry. I can't understand why people do that. To save you the risk of looking at such lists, the two books that regularly top them are The Day of the Jackal at number one followed by The Odessa File at number 2 or 3.

I am tempted to comment further but I can't without possibly spoiling your enjoyment of the book. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.
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on 1 May 2014
Yet another great book from a master author.I bought this book because I mislaid my original copy and when I re-read it I remembered why I bought it in the first place. The detail is perfect and at times comes across as if it where a non- fiction book.
The tale of ODESSA as an escape organisation for ex SS men is very thorough and shows both the West German Government and the Allies in a very bad light. Buy it.
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on 2 December 2009
I read this as a teenager and it is fair to say that it changed my life. I had no knowledge at that time (late 1970's) of the Holocaust and the diary's narrative of the daily minutiae and horror of a Nazi concentration camp was utterly compelling. Other reviewers have described the story outline very well. This, in the same way as the movie Schindler's List (which makes the book Schindlers Ark more accessible I think) should be compulsory reading.
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on 20 May 2014
I'd read plenty of thrillers but Fred Forsyth seemed too "old school" for me, something I remember Dad reading on the beach as a kid. In fact, his novels are a masterclass in thriller writing: Day of the Jackal, Fourth Protocol.. and the Odessa File.

Forsyth's special schtick is to take real events and people (naming names) and spin his own back-narrative around them. Real-life Nazi hunter Simon Weisenthal makes a cameo in this one. But the real thrills come from guessing how real his fictional bits are. It's not even known if a network of ex-Nazis even existed after WWII, much less that many retained influence and power... but everything points to it happening. And the story - not marred by a Hollywood-style happiest of endings - pulls you along at speed, stopping sometimes to slap you in the face.

Excellent work from a long-established writer I look forward to getting to know better.
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on 11 December 2014
This book covered an area and a time after the 2nd World War which does not get much cover elsewhere. In some places the detail was a little too deep making the storey a little slow to unfold. There is the usual Forsyth attention to detail.
Not so many totally unexpected events and situations as there are in other of his books but still a good tale well told, A 4 stars out of 5 read.
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on 22 May 2016
This is a magnificent book, one of Forsyth's finest. If you have seen the film then be prepared it's nothing like the book which is so much better. Don't let this pass you by you will not regret reading it.
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on 8 August 2015
A really gripping book and one I found hard to put down when it got going. It's based in Germany in the early 60's just after the assassination of JFK.
It tells the story of a journalist, Peter Miller, who gets given a diary of an old man who had just taken his own life. The diary reveals the old man was a German jew who was a prisoner at an extermination camp at Riga.
It tells of the horrors and the brutality of the camp commandant, Eduard Roschman. The Journalist, Peter Miller, sets out to find this man who has evaded capture and is now assuming another identity.
It's quite different from the film of the same name starring Jon Voight. The film is more dramatised and unlike the book does not reflect the true story.
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