In This Review

Scenes From the End: The Last Days of World War II in Europe
Scenes From the End: The Last Days of World War II in Europe
By Frank E. Manuel
Steerforth Press, 2000, 135 pp

Before Manuel became a brilliant historian of utopian thought, he was an American intelligence officer in charge of interrogating German war prisoners during "the endgame of the Third Reich." Based on notes from the time and letters to his wife, this memoir may (as the author admits) "blur the line between invention and recollection, fantasy and memory." But it nonetheless rings true, and it sparkles. This is a superb feat of hyperrealism by a biting, resourceful writer. Manuel tells of the defeated German officers' behavior -- their special pleading and attempts at denying responsibility for Nazi crimes -- and offers priceless vignettes about Marshal Kesselring and Admiral Miklos Horthy. His picture of returning slave workers and Jewish survivors and stories of German scientists eager to emigrate to the United States give the reader a vivid sense of Germany's atmosphere immediately after its defeat. The 55 years that have passed since those events have neither dulled nor weakened the mind and pen of a man who was only 34 at the time.