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They were the unlikeliest of heroes. Rene Dreyfus, a former top driver on the international racecar circuit, had been banned from the best European teams—and fastest cars—by the mid-1930s because of his Jewish heritage. Charles Weiffenbach, head of the down-on-its-luck automaker Delahaye, was desperately trying to save his company as the world teetered toward the brink. And Lucy Schell, the adventurous daughter of an American multi-millionaire, yearned to reclaim the glory of her rally-driving days.
As Nazi Germany launched its campaign of racial terror and pushed the world toward war, these three misfits banded together to challenge Hitler’s dominance at the apex of motorsport: the Grand Prix. Their quest for redemption culminated in a remarkable race that is still talked about in racing circles to this day—but which, soon after it ended, Hitler attempted to completely erase from history.
Bringing to life this glamorous era and the sport that defined it, Faster chronicles one of the most inspiring, death-defying upsets of all time: a symbolic blow against the Nazis during history’s darkest hour.
This “fast-paced account” of WWI airmen who escaped Germany’s most notorious POW camp is “expertly narrated” by the New York Times bestselling author (Kirkus, starred review).
During World War I, Allied soldiers might avoid death only to find themselves in the abominable conditions of Germany’s many prison camps. The most infamous was Holzminden, a land-locked Alcatraz that housed the most escape-prone officers. Its commandant was a boorish tyrant named Karl Niemeyer, who swore that none should ever leave.
Desperate to break out of “Hellminden”, a group of Allied prisoners hatch an audacious escape plan that requires a risky feat of engineering as well as a bevy of disguises, forged documents, and fake walls—not to mention steely resolve and total secrecy. Once beyond the watchtowers and round-the-clock patrols, they are then faced with a 150-mile dash through enemy-occupied territory toward free Holland.
Drawing on never-before-seen memoirs and letters, historian Neal Bascomb “has unearthed a remarkable piece of hidden history, and told it perfectly. The story brims with adventure, suspense, daring, and heroism” (David Grann, New York Times bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon).
“Weaving together his typically intense research and a riveting narrative, Neal Bascomb’s The Winter Fortress is a spellbinding piece of historical writing.” — Martin Dugard, author of Into Africa and co-author of the Killing series
In 1942, the Nazis were racing to complete the first atomic bomb. All they needed was a single, incredibly rare ingredient: heavy water, which was produced solely at Norway’s Vemork plant. Under threat of death, Vemork’s engineers pushed production into overdrive. If the Allies could not destroy the plant, they feared the Nazis would soon be in possession of the most dangerous weapon the world had ever seen. But how would the Allied forces reach the castle fortress, set on a precipitous gorge in one of the coldest, most inhospitable places on earth?
Based on a trove of top-secret documents and never-before-seen diaries and letters of the saboteurs, The Winter Fortress is an arresting chronicle of a brilliant scientist, a band of spies on skis, perilous survival in the wild, Gestapo manhunts, and a last-minute operation that would alter the course of the war.
“A taut and peerlessly told adventure story full of thrills, derring-do and heart-stopping tension.” — Seattle Times
“Told with both historical and scientific accuracy . . . this book has rocketed into my pantheon of the top suspense-filled stories about [World War II], along with The 900 Days and The Colditz Story.” — Ethan Siegel, Forbes
Hunting Eichmann is the first complete narrative of a relentless and harrowing international manhunt.
When the Allies stormed Berlin in the last days of the Third Reich, Adolf Eichmann shed his SS uniform and vanished. Following his escape from two American POW camps, his retreat into the mountains and out of Europe, and his path to an anonymous life in Buenos Aires, his pursuers are a bulldog West German prosecutor, a blind Argentinean Jew and his beautiful daughter, and a budding, ragtag spy agency called the Mossad, whose operatives have their own scores to settle (and whose rare surveillance photographs are published here for the first time). The capture of Eichmann and the efforts by Israeli agents to secret him out of Argentina to stand trial is the stunning conclusion to this thrilling historical account, told with the kind of pulse-pounding detail that rivals anything you'd find in great spy fiction.
THE NAZI HUNTERS is the thrilling and fascinating story of what happened between these two events. Survivor Simon Wiesenthal opened Eichmann's case; a blind Argentinean and his teenage daughter provided crucial information. Finally, the Israeli spies -- many of whom lost family in the Holocaust -- embarked on their daring mission, recounted here in full. Based on the adult bestseller HUNTING EICHMANN, which is now in development as a major film, and illustrated with powerful photos throughout, THE NAZI HUNTERS is a can't-miss work of narrative nonfiction for middle-grade and YA readers.
Spanning three continents and defying the odds, their collective quest captivated the world and stole headlines from the Korean War, the atomic race, and such legendary figures as Edmund Hillary, Willie Mays, Native Dancer, and Ben Hogan. In the tradition of Seabiscuit and Chariots of Fire, Neal Bascomb delivers a breathtaking story of unlikely heroes and leaves us with a lasting portrait of the twilight years of the golden age of sport.
In 1924, in the vibrant heart of Manhattan, a fierce rivalry was born. Two architects, William Van Alen and Craig Severance (former friends and successful partners, but now bitter adversaries), set out to imprint their individual marks on the greatest canvas in the world--the rapidly evolving skyline of New York City. Each man desired to build the city’s tallest building, or ‘skyscraper.’ Each would stop at nothing to outdo his rival.
Van Alen was a creative genius who envisioned a bold, contemporary building that would move beyond the tired architecture of the previous century. By a stroke of good fortune he found a larger-than-life patron in automobile magnate Walter Chrysler, and they set out to build the legendary Chrysler building. Severance, by comparison, was a brilliant businessman, and he tapped his circle of downtown, old-money investors to begin construction on the Manhattan Company Building at 40 Wall Street.
From ground-breaking to bricklaying, Van Alen and Severance fought a cunning duel of wills. Each man was forced to revamp his architectural design in an attempt to push higher, to overcome his rival in mid-construction, as the structures rose, floor by floor, in record time. Yet just as the battle was underway, a third party entered the arena and announced plans to build an even larger building. This project would be overseen by one of Chrysler’s principal rivals--a representative of the General Motors group--and the building ultimately became known as The Empire State Building.
Infused with narrative thrills and perfectly rendered historical and engineering detail, Higher brings to life a sensational episode in American history. Author Neal Bascomb interweaves characters such as Al Smith and Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt, leading up to an astonishing climax that illustrates one of the most ingenious (and secret) architectural achievements of all time.
Neal Bascomb, author of The Nazi Hunters, returns with his next thrilling work of narrative nonfiction about a group of Allied POWs who staged an escape for the ages during World War I. Illustrated throughout with incredible photographs and published on the 100th anniversary of the Holzminden escape!
At the height of World War I, as battles raged in the trenches and in the air, another struggle for survival was being waged in the most notorious POW camp in all of Germany: Holzminden. A land-locked Alcatraz of sorts, it was home to the most troublesome Allied prisoners--and the most talented at escape. The Grand Escape tells the remarkable tale of a band of pilots who pulled off an ingenious plan and made it out of enemy territory in the biggest breakout of WWI, inspiring their countrymen in the darkest hours of the war.
This pulse-pounding story alternates between the opulent court of Nicholas II and the drama on the high seas. Neal Bascomb combines extensive research and fresh information from Soviet archives to tell the true story of the deadliest naval mutiny in history. Red Mutiny is a terrific adventure filled with epic naval battles, heroic sacrifices, treachery, bloodlust, and the rallying cries of freedom.
Neal Bascomb delivers another nail-biting work of nonfiction for young adults in this incredible true story of spies and survival.
The invasion begins at night, with German cruisers slipping into harbor, and soon the Nazis occupy all of Norway. They station soldiers throughout the country. They institute martial rule. And at Vemork, an industrial fortress high above a dizzying gorge, they gain access to an essential ingredient for the weapon that could end World War II: Hitler’s very own nuclear bomb.
When the Allies discover the plans for the bomb, they agree Vemork must be destroyed. But after a British operation fails to stop the Nazis’ deadly designs, the task falls to a band of young Norwegian commandos. Armed with little more than skis, explosives, and great courage, they will survive months in the snowy wilderness, elude a huge manhunt, and execute two dangerous missions. The result? The greatest act of sabotage in all of World War II.
That Monday afternoon, in high-school gyms across America, kids were battling for the only glory American culture seems to want to dispense to the young these days: sports glory. But at Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, California, in a gear-cluttered classroom, a different type of “cool” was brewing. A physics teacher with a dream – the first public high-school teacher ever to win a MacArthur Genius Award -- had rounded up a band of high-I.Q. students who wanted to put their technical know-how to work. If you asked these brainiacs what the stakes were that first week of their project, they’d have told you it was all about winning a robotics competition – building the ultimate robot and prevailing in a machine-to-machine contest in front of 25,000 screaming fans at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.
But for their mentor, Amir Abo-Shaeer, much more hung in the balance.
The fact was, Amir had in mind a different vision for education, one based not on rote learning -- on absorbing facts and figures -- but on active creation. In his mind’s eye, he saw an even more robust academy within Dos Pueblos that would make science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) cool again, and he knew he was poised on the edge of making that dream a reality. All he needed to get the necessary funding was one flashy win – a triumph that would firmly put his Engineering Academy at Dos Pueblos on the map. He imagined that one day there would be a nation filled with such academies, and a new popular veneration for STEM – a “new cool” – that would return America to its former innovative glory.
It was a dream shared by Dean Kamen, a modern-day inventing wizard – often-called “the Edison of his time” – who’d concocted the very same FIRST Robotics Competition that had lured the kids at Dos Pueblos. Kamen had created FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) nearly twenty years prior. And now, with a participant alumni base approaching a million strong, he felt that awareness was about to hit critical mass.
But before the Dos Pueblos D’Penguineers could do their part in bringing a new cool to America, they’d have to vanquish an intimidating lineup of “super-teams”– high-school technology goliaths that hailed from engineering hot spots such as Silicon Valley, Massachusetts’ Route 128 technology corridor, and Michigan’s auto-design belt. Some of these teams were so good that winning wasn’t just hoped for every year, it was expected.
In The New Cool, Neal Bascomb manages to make even those who know little about – or are vaguely suspicious of – technology care passionately about a team of kids questing after a different kind of glory. In these kids’ heartaches and headaches – and yes, high-five triumphs -- we glimpse the path not just to a new way of educating our youth but of honoring the crucial skills a society needs to prosper. A new cool.