The Ratline: Love, Lies and Justice on the Trail of a Nazi Fugitive (Hardback)Philippe Sands (author)
Documenting the shadowy activities of an SS Brigadesfuhrer in the years leading up to his mysterious demise, the award-winning author of East West Street paints a complex picture of insidious evil and encroaching desperation.
Shortlisted for the Waterstones Book of the Year 2020
As Governor of Galicia, SS Brigadesfuhrer Otto Freiherr von Wachter presided over an authority on whose territory hundreds of thousands of Jews and Poles were killed, including the family of the author's grandfather. By the time the war ended in May 1945, he was indicted for 'mass murder'.
Hunted by the Soviets, the Americans, the Poles and the British, as well as groups of Jews, Wachter went on the run. He spent three years hiding in the Austrian Alps before making his way to Rome and being taken in by a Vatican bishop. He remained there for three months. While preparing to travel to Argentina on the 'ratline' he died unexpectedly, in July 1949, a few days after having lunch with an 'old comrade' whom he suspected of having been recruited by the Americans.
In The Ratline Philippe Sands offers a unique account of the daily life of a Nazi fugitive, the love between Wachter and his wife Charlotte, who continued to write regularly to each other while he was on the run, and a fascinating insight into life in Rome and among American and Soviet spies active at the start of the Cold War. Using modern medical expertise, the door is unlocked to a mystery that haunts Wachter's youngest child, who believes his father was a good man - what was Wachter doing while in hiding, and what exactly caused his death?
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Number of pages: 432
Weight: 657 g
Dimensions: 238 x 160 x 42 mm
A gripping adventure, an astounding journey of discovery and a terrifying and timely portrait of evil in all its complexity, banality, self-justification and madness. A stunning achievement - STEPHEN FRY
Hypnotic, shocking and unputdownable - JOHN LE CARRÉ
Breathtaking, gripping, and ultimately, shattering. Philippe Sands has done the unimaginable: look a butcher in the eye and tell his story without flinching - ELIF SHAFAK
A triumph of research and brilliant storytelling - ANTONY BEEVOR
Remarkable . . . Sands's untangling of the mysteries surrounding Otto von Wächter is masterfully done - THE SUNDAY TIMES
This is a burningly necessary book. Sands makes a gently unsparing dissection of deception, love, delusion and ineradicable evil. Elegant, painstaking, passionate and quietly enraging - A L KENNEDY
This is a taut and finely crafted factual thriller, reminiscent in density and pace of John le Carré . . . a feat of exhilarating storytelling - gripping, gratifying and morally robust - OBSERVER
The forensic stamina and precision that garnered such praise for Sands' 2016 work EAST WEST STREET are equally in evidence here. THE RATLINE is not only about events in the past, but their dangerous legacy in the world today. A formidable piece of historical sleuthing written with all the pace and suspense of a thriller, it is a timely reminder that crimes against humanity don't occur only at the level of states and governments. They take place also in the more secret and less fathomable depths of people's hearts and minds - Rebecca Abrams, FINANCIAL TIMES
Extraordinary. In fast-paced, John le Carré-like pages (spies, Nazi-hunters, dark Vatican forces) . . . THE RATLINE is an electrifying true crime for the contagion lockdown - EVENING STANDARD
Sands is a terrier at research . . . The seething world of post-war Rome, with its senior fascists reprieved and returning to prominence, its war criminals lurking in hiding, its spies and secret services brokering deals and its adventurers and profiteers making fortunes, has seldom been more vividly described - Caroline Moorehead, SPECTATOR
A book of twists and intrigues as complex as any le Carré thriller . . . like its predecessor, [it] is replete with vivid descriptions and Sands brings to it the same relentless narrative momentum - LITERARY REVIEW
Fascinating . . . Switching between the distant and very recent past, the book is episodic in nature, but this only makes it more compelling. It combines a mystery with a straight retelling of history - shining a light into one of the less investigated corners of the Nazi era and its aftermath - and a thoughtful inquiry into how we reckon with it - David Bennum, MAIL ON SUNDAY
THE RATLINE is a compelling piece of forensic historical research - one that is every bit as good as EAST WEST STREET - THE TELEGRAPH
A truly extraordinary book - a forensic yet deeply humane and measured exploration of the human capacity for self-deception and cruelty - HENRY MARSH
Has the illuminating brilliance of a magnesium flame and a pace worthy of John le Carré . . . THE RATLINE is a cunningly constructed courtroom drama in book form . . . It is detailed, it is damning - all the more so because of the author's dispassionate decency - SUNDAY EXPRESS, S MAGAZINE
Fascinating . . . superbly researched and brilliantly told. East West Street was one of the outstanding books of the past decade . . . The Ratline - part history, part thriller - is a superb companion piece, shedding light on the astonishing cynicism of the early years of the Cold War, when Nazis, Americans and Catholic clergy made strange bedfellows. Both should be read together. They are a fascinating account of the war between law and barbarism - NEW STATESMAN
Vivid and complex . . . Sands has skilfully avoided the catalogue of inhumanity often detailed in books about the Nazis, preferring a low-key, gently poignant approach that makes the occasional intrusion of moments of horror all the more shocking - DAILY EXPRESS
Brilliant . . . extraordinarily moving - DAILY MIRROR
A gripping tale, crammed with twists and turns . . . enthralling - HISTORY TODAY
THE RATLINE is tragic and unforgettable . . . Sands has the artfulness of a born storyteller, as well as deadly forensic skills and formidable patience at reaching his ends. He unwraps his evidence in spare, clear, convincing prose with a taut control that keeps one on tenterhooks . . . Sands's intellectual passion, his crusading zeal and his compassion for the dead and wounded make this a great book - THE OLDIE
It is this present-day drama, rather than the historical story, that makes this book so extraordinary. Readers will, much like the author, find themselves longing for Horst to open his eyes. That he finds this so difficult to do is simultaneously poignant and grotesque - BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE
Diaries, encrypted letters and secret documents are dissected by a mastermind . . . a great achievement - CEES NOOTEBOOM
In a story that is as gripping as any thriller, Philippe Sands uncovers new evidence about exactly what happened to von Wachter leading up to his unexpected death in 1949 - JEWISH RENAISSANCE
A riveting exposé . . . a gripping blend of historical scholarship and clever detective work - STRONG WORDS
Engrossing . . . Part history, part memoir and part detective story, it's a thought-provoking read - CHOICE MAGAZINE, Book of the Month
An astonishing amount of research and expertise has gone into the making of this book . . . a compelling historical and human drama - THE TABLET
Gripping . . . fascinating and important. It's a testament to Sands - his fiercely inquiring mind, his excellent researchers, the wealth of documents and his ability to make them come to life - that the book is so suspenseful. This important book makes clear that the more difficult work of history may not be in tracking down the ones who tried to escape, but in confronting the ones who didn't - The New York Times
extraordinary study - The Sunday Times
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Philippe Sands follows the story of Otto Wächter. SS governor of Galicia who appeared in his award winning book “East West Street”. This is like a follow up, but essentially the story of Otto and Charlotte.
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The Ratline is several books at once: a biography, a murder mystery, the story of a troubled friendship, and a reckoning with the crimes of the 20th century. The book triumphs because the action is held together by... More
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