Synopses & Reviews
In the bestselling tradition of espionage novels by John LeCarre and Alan Furst, andlt;Iandgt;Istanbul Passageandlt;/Iandgt; brilliantly illustrates why Edgar Awardand#8211;winning author Joseph Kanon has been hailed as "the heir apparent to Graham Greene" (andlt;iandgt;The Boston Globeandlt;/iandgt;).andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;A neutral city straddling Europe and Asia, Istanbul survived the Second World War as a magnet for refugees and spies, trafficking in secrets and lies rather than soldiers. Expatriate American businessman Leon Bauer was drawn into this shadow world, doing undercover odd jobs and courier runs in support of the Allied war effort.andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Now, as the espionage community begins to pack up and an apprehensive city prepares for the grim realities of postwar life, Leon is given one last routine assignment. But when the job goes fatally wrongand#8212;an exchange of gunfire, a body left in the street, a potential war criminal on his handsand#8212;Leon is plunged into a tangle of intrigue, shifting loyalties, and moral uncertainty.andlt;BRandgt;Played out against the bazaars and mosques and faded mansions of this knowing, ancient Ottoman city, Leonand#8217;s conflicted attempt to save one life leads to a desperate manhunt that ultimately threatens his own survival. How do you do the right thing when there are only bad choices to be made?andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Rich with atmosphere and period detail, andlt;Iandgt;Istanbul Passage andlt;/Iandgt;is the haunting story of a man swept up in the dawn of the Cold War, of an unexpected love affair, and of a city as deceptive as the calm surface waters of the Bosphorus that divides it.
"As this tense, complex, and fascinating espionage novel opens, Leon Bauer is on the Bosphorus shoreline north of Istanbul, shivering in the dark, waiting to take custody of a mysterious passenger who is being smuggled from Romania. It is late 1945, and Europe is hastily transitioning from World War II to the cold war. Turkey, a noncombatant, has thrived as a neutral center of business and diplomacy, and now Istanbul is filled with defeated Germans and victorious Russians, blustery Americans, and resigned Turks and desperate Jews, all pursuing vital and divergent agendas. And, of course, spies. This is the Istanbul in which American businessman Leon Bauer finds himself, having fled here with his German-Jewish wife, Anna, after Kristallnacht in 1938. Leon was unable to serve in the military, but he was resourceful, spoke German as well as Turkish, and before long an American operative asked him to do a favor, a simple courier job. And so Leon began to do his part, an amateur in a professional's world. The title, Istanbul Passage, operates on many levels. The main passage is that of the mystery passenger, a journey that forms the core of the suspenseful double-cross filled plot. The mission is a disaster from the very first sentence of the book, and Leon struggles to make sense of the betrayals while also taking critical responsibility for this stranger's life, for a man's safe passage from his wartime identity to his postwar fate. Along the way, Leon must confront the duplicity of nearly everyone around him, a diverse cast of memorable characters with unclear and shifting alliances. Another passage is that of Jews, from fear in Europe to new hope in Palestine. Although Turkey had been officially neutral during most of the war, unofficially Istanbul had been a center for human trafficking. This had been Anna's chief concern: the life-or-death business of transporting refugees via unsafe boats through dangerous waters. But when one of these missions failed tragically, Anna sank into a fugue state and is now shuttered in a clinic, completely uncommunicative. There's also the passage as a geographical designation, and in this regard Kanon's book is a swirling, impressionistic treat, a sensory feast on one of the most delectable cities in the world, the confluence of the Islamic and the Christian, the ancient and the contemporary, the Asian and the European (straddling the Bosphorus, it is the only city in the world on two continents). The descriptive passages, the period tourism, are transporting. Finally, there's Leon's journey rather, his many journeys as protagonist. From a civilian to a spy to whatever will follow. From a temporary expat to a possibly permanent resident. From a blind patriot to an independent operator. From a happily married man to something else. From an idealist to a pragmatist. Istanbul Passage is a first-rate espionage novel, filled with complexity and thrills, but its greatest success may be in this much more universal literary exploration: how an ordinary man is transformed by extraordinary circumstances. Chris Pavone is the author of the debut novel The Expats, on sale March 6 (Crown)." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"andlt;iandgt;Istanbul Passageandlt;/iandgt; bristles with authenticity. Joseph Kanon has a unique and admirable talent: he brilliantly marries suspense and historical fact, wrapping them around a core of pure human drama, while making it seem effortless. This isn't just talent; it's magic.and#8221;
"Istanbul Passage is a first-rate espionage novel, filled with complexity and thrills, but its greatest success may be in this much more universal literary exploration: how an ordinary man is transformed by extraordinary circumstances."
"With dialogue that can go off like gunfire and a streak of nostalgia that feels timeless, this book takes its place among espionage novels as an instant classic."andlt;BRandgt; --andlt;iandgt;Kirkus Reviewsandlt;/iandgt; (Starred Review)
"Superbly craftedand#8230; A beautifully conceived and atmospheric thriller; highly recommended."
and#8220;A masterful work that is as gripping as it is intelligent.and#8221;
and#8220;Kanon delivers a satisfying atmospheric thriller.and#8221;
and#8220;A fast-moving, thinking manand#8217;s thriller. . . tense and atmospheric [with] sinister intrigue.and#8221;
"Reminiscent of the works of Graham Greene." Alexander McCall Smith
"Reminiscent of the works of Graham Greene."
"Carroll, winner of the National Book Award for An American Requiem (1996) and the PEN/Galbraith Award for House of War (2006), both nonfiction, has also written numerous novels in multiple genres. Here he combines fact and fiction in a historical thriller. Carroll makes clear in an authors note that, while the “main characters and their story” are fictional, everything else in the book, centering on the treatment of Italian Jews during and after WWII, and including a Vatican plot called the “ratline,” which secretly relocated Nazi war criminals to Argentina, is based on fact. This authors note, which appears at the end of the novel, might have been better placed at the beginning, since what Carroll describes is so horrifying (as in details on a childrens concentration camp) as to seem fictional. The man who encounters this tangle of evil is David Warburg, sent to Rome by the U.S. War Refugee Board at the end of WWII to help bring aid to the European Jews arriving in Rome. Warburg has two guides to the inferno of postwar Rome: a woman Red Cross worker and a young American priest. Their efforts are met, first with bureaucratic roadblocks, and later with full-out betrayal. Carrolls depictions of the chaos in Rome, along with his insights into the Vatican ratline, are unforgettable. Recommend this utterly engaging thriller to fans of Joseph Kanons The Good German (2001) and James R. Benns Deaths Door (2012)."--Booklist, STARRED review "James Carroll has written a novel with the breathtaking pace of a thriller and the gravitas of a genuine moral center--as if John LeCarre and Graham Greene collaborated to produce Warburg in Rome
"—Mary Gordon, author of Pearl
and The Love of My Youth
"Carroll, who explored the history of Catholic anti-Semitism in the nonfiction account Constantines Sword, returns to this theme with a suspenseful historical drama set in Rome at the end of WWII and centering on Vatican complicity in the flight of Nazi fugitives to Argentina. David Warburg, a U.S. Treasury Department lawyer, is sent to the city to organize the War Refugee Board, a front for aiding Jewish refugees and helping to create their hoped-for homeland in Palestine. While in Rome, Warburg meets ruthless OSS counterintelligence head Col. Peter Mates, who is opposing Soviet domination of Central Europe through covert means. Warburg and Mates draw Father Kevin Deane, an American priest, and Marguerite dErasmo, a French-Italian Red Cross worker, into their plans, not realizing that both have hidden allegiances and motives. As Carroll cleverly weaves these characters among an assortment of liars, schemers, and charlatans, one character sums it all up: “None of us here is innocent.” While high-placed Catholic officials aid escaped war criminals, other factions seek revenge for wartime brutality, and still others begin the bloody struggle for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. And at the heart of all the treachery, murder, and tragedy is the Eternal City."--Publishers Weekly
"A well-paced thriller from longtime Vatican watcher Carroll (Crusade, 2004, etc.) set in post-World War II Rome, with the Catholic Church athwart a tangle of scandalous politics and incriminating deeds.
"Sanctuary, Sister, is for the guilty. We may not like it, but there it is." So remarks an American monsignor, Kevin Deane, whos working to provide relief to Italian Jews, even as others in the Vatican are seeking to extend that sanctuary to their Nazi persecutors. Into this conflict comes refugee coordinator David Warburg, a confidant of Henry Morgenthau, who has warned him that "[o]nce Mark Clark captures it, Rome will be the nerve center and the escape hatch both." If Morgenthau only knew how deeply tunneled that escape hatch was….Helping Warburg—or is she?—is a Red Cross worker named Marguerite dErasmo, who "came of age as if she were a nun" but who has hidden resources, to say nothing of secrets. Marguerite is a person of faith much shaken, for this is a time in which "the Madonna seemed indifferent to everyone but her Son," while Warburg is a coolly efficient explorer of the surprising alleys his quest takes him down—not just the Vatican "ratline" that sweeps Nazis out of the path of the conquering Allies (Rome, as Warburg sees it, is "halfway between Vienna and Buenos Aires"), but also a complex storyline that finds highly placed elements within the Vatican opposing Jewish immigration to Palestine on the grounds that by doing so, they are helping to preserve the Holy Land, even as others are aligned with the revived cause of Zionism. Carroll blends a solid command of modern history with a sense for the varieties of evil that have inhabited it—not just the villains, but also the bureaucrats who have self-servingly helped them along and the apologists who have made the world safe for both classes of people.
Though without the white-knuckle tension of Graham Greenes The Third Man, a yarn thats of a piece with it—and a worthy successor."--Kirkus Reviews
"Warburg In Rome creates the atmosphere of a thriller with deeply serious historical undertones - the immediate aftermath of the German occupation of Rome. And the laying down of the infamous ratlines that allowed Nazi principals to escape allied capture with aid from the church. And Roosevelt's belated plan to save Jews still in Nazi territory. That's the history part. Fiction enters with a main character named David Warburg, a secular American Jew from northern New England. Roosevelt has charged him with directing the U.S. War Refugee Board and sends him on a mission to Rome, just after the Nazi retreat. Plenty of other strong characters gather around Warburg - some to help and some to disrupt. There's American priest, whom New York's ambitious Cardinal Spellman has assigned to advance his purposes, while in Rome and 24-year-old Marguerite DErasmo, a half-French, half-Italian beauty, whom Warburg finds both attractive and useful for his own plans. She's been working in tandem with a group of resisting priests and local Jewish leaders to save the lives of Jews still in fascist captivity. A long struggle ensues to find justice and love in the wake of the war. But the novel remains consistently entertaining, never didactic - even as a reader moves along, hip-deep in the history of the period."Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered
"Former priest Carroll (An American Requiem) returns with this complex and compelling novel of the Vatican and morality during World War II. The happenings here are dark indeed, and its often difficult to believe that the novel is based on real-life events. Lawyer David Warburg comes to Rome to help set up and direct the new U.S. War Refugee Board, an effort that aims to help European Jews rebuild their lives as the war comes to a close. In the course of his humanitarian work, he meets Marguerite dErasmo, a Red Cross worker who is motivated by much more than meets the eye. Soon David learns of the Vatican ratline, a system that the Church used to smuggle Nazi war criminals to safety in Argentina. No longer sure whom to trust, he turns to U.S. Intelligence, only to find that the ratline isnt much of a secret after all. VERDICT This is a fresh look at a scandalous chapter of history, and one that reminds us that even when the war was over, the horrors were not. Sensitive readers should beware, as there are some graphic and extremely unsettling scenes. This book deserves a wide readership, and should especially appeal to readers interested in political and religious history."--Library Journal
"James Carrolls 'Warburg in Rome' has many of the ingredients of a great spy thriller: a high-stakes battle between good and evil; a plot full of twists and turns; a cultural capital both seductive and corrupt; characters caught in ethical thickets; and a moment of existential crisis when all the worlds troubles seem to converge on a single point on the map, bringing out the best and the worst in all who happen to find themselves at the fractured center of civilization."--The Boston Globe "A gripping political thriller set in a world of troubling moral complexity."--WBUR
From the acclaimed, bestselling author of Stardust, The Good German, and Los Alamos—a gripping tale of an American undercover agent in 1945 Istanbul who descends into the murky cat-and-mouse world of compromise and betrayal that will come to define the entire post-war era.
A neutral capital straddling Europe and Asia, Istanbul has spent the war as a magnet for refugees and spies. Even American businessman Leon Bauer has been drawn into this shadow world, doing undercover odd jobs and courier runs for the Allied war effort. Now as the espionage community begins to pack up and an apprehensive city prepares for the grim realities of post-war life, he is given one more assignment, a routine job that goes fatally wrong, plunging him into a tangle of intrigue and moral confusion.
Played out against the bazaars and mosques and faded mansions of this knowing, ancient Ottoman city, Leon's attempt to save one life leads to a desperate manhunt and a maze of shifting loyalties that threatens his own. How do you do the right thing when there are only bad choices to make? Istanbul Passage is the story of a man swept up in the aftermath of war, an unexpected love affair, and a city as deceptive as the calm surface waters of the Bosphorus that divides it.
Rich with atmosphere and period detail, Joseph Kanon’s latest novel flawlessly blends fact and fiction into a haunting thriller about the dawn of the Cold War, once again proving why Kanon has been hailed as the “heir apparent to Graham Greene” (The Boston Globe).
A neutral city straddling Europe and Asia, Istanbul survived the Second World War as a magnet for refugees and spies, trafficking in secrets and lies rather than soldiers. Expatriate American businessman Leon Bauer was drawn into this shadow world, doing undercover odd jobs and courier runs in support of the Allied war effort.
Now, as the espionage community begins to pack up and an apprehensive city prepares for the grim realities of postwar life, Leon is given one last routine assignment. But when the job goes fatally wrong—an exchange of gunfire, a body left in the street, a potential war criminal on his hands—Leon is plunged into a tangle of intrigue, shifting loyalties, and moral uncertainty.
Played out against the bazaars and mosques and faded mansions of this knowing, ancient Ottoman city, Leon’s conflicted attempt to save one life leads to a desperate manhunt that ultimately threatens his own survival. How do you do the right thing when there are only bad choices to be made?
Rich with atmosphere and period detail, Istanbul Passage is the haunting story of a man swept up in the dawn of the Cold War, of an unexpected love affair, and of a city as deceptive as the calm surface waters of the Bosphorus that divides it.
From the author of the New York Times
best-selling Constantines Sword, a novel set in post-World War II Rome, where the fate of recently liberated Jews and the Churchs dark wartime secrets intertwine
David Warburg, newly minted director of the U.S. War Refugee Board, arrives in Rome at wars end, determined to bring aid to the destitute European Jews streaming into the city. Marguerite dErasmo, a French-Italian Red Cross worker with a shadowed past, is initially Warburgs guide to a complicated Rome; while a charismatic young American Catholic priest, Monsignor Kevin Deane, seems equally committed to aiding Italian Jews. But the city is a labyrinth of desperate fugitives, runaway Nazis, Jewish resisters, and criminal Church figures. Marguerite, caught between justice and revenge, is forced to play a double game. At the center of the maze, Warburg discovers one of historys great scandals—the Vatican ratline, a clandestine escape route maintained by Church officials and providing scores of Nazi war criminals with secret passage to Argentina. Warburgs disillusionment is complete when, turning to American intelligence officials, he learns that the dark secret is not so secret, and that even those he trusts may betray him.
James Carroll delivers an authoritative, stirring novel that reckons powerfully with the postwar complexities of good and evil in the Eternal City.
About the Author
was raised in Washington, D.C., and ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1969. He served as a chaplain at Boston University from 1969 to 1974, then left the priesthood to become a writer. A distinguished scholar-
in-residence at Suffolk University, he is a columnist for the Boston Globe and a
regular contributor to the Daily Beast.
His critically admired books include Practicing Catholic, the National Book Award-winning An American Requiem, House of War, which won the first PEN/Galbraith Award, and the New York Times bestseller Constantines Sword, now an acclaimed documentary.
Table of Contents
1. The Name 1
2. The Files 9
Part I: War
1. A Mighty Endeavor 17
2. Master of Ceremonies 41
3. Handkerchief 71
4. Intercedite Pro Nobis 97
5. A Jews Fantasy 127
6. Cleopatras Needle 163
Part II: Post War
7. Road Out 191
8. Reds 223
9. Obbedienza 253
10. Nakam Means Revenge 283
11. Ratline 311
12. Vieni! Come! 343
Authors Note 363