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My Fatherís Secret War: A Memoir    by Lucinda Franks Amazon.com order for
My Fatherís Secret War
by Lucinda Franks
Order:  USA  Can
Miramax, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Kerrily Sapet

Rarely does a book come along that captivates from page to page, particularly when it is a suspenseful tale that unfolds slowly. This is one of those stories. A thriller at times, it is also heart-warming and heart-wrenching. It is a story of mystery and love, all the while gripping the reader from the first word to the last. To simply say it is the story of a father and a daughter would not do it justice. It is also a testament to the courage of men during World War II, and the toll that the war took, not only on the rest of their lives, but on their families as well. In the book, My Father's Secret War, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Lucinda Franks tells her family's saga, centering on her father, Thomas Franks.

Even as a young girl, Lucinda Franks knew her parents' relationship was not normal. She recalls fights, frustration, adultery, and alcohol, later coming to the conclusion that her mother's intense mood swings would today be labeled as bipolar. Frank's father, handsome, chivalrous, and reserved, always kept a part of himself hidden and removed. A veteran of World War II, he steadfastly refused to speak of his service in the war.

Even so, Frank's father inspired her at times, and kept watch by her side, until it ultimately drove a wedge between them. Only later, as her father aged, was Franks able to extract glimpses of the silent war that possessed him throughout his life, a result of the horrors he had observed during his service. Like a fascinating puzzle, she begins to put pieces together, spurred on by finding a gun's silencer and a German cap with a swastika. She soon realizes that her father was a spy working behind enemy lines. He posed as a German officer and wrote reports of the atrocities found at one of the first liberated concentration camps. Sworn to secrecy, Thomas Franks struggles to maintain that vow, but as dementia sets in, he begins to reveal his past. As he begins to slip away, his daughter starts to see how the war changed her father, and how that change affected everyone he loved throughout his life.

My Father's Secret War concludes with unexpected revelations. It tells of a bond between a father and daughter that always skimmed below the surface. Franks has told a beautiful and captivating story, all the more powerful because of its truth.

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