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Altar of Resistance (by Samuel Marquis)


New Member
Just love finding new authors, and really enjoyed this one.

Here is my review of Altar of Resistance:
Set in World War II, the novel cleverly mixes fact with fiction. Many of the characters in the novel were real people, and the fictional characters are based on a number of real people too. The Allies are striking out from southern Italy with the aim of taking Rome. Churchill claims that the armies will be in Rome by Christmas. Of course, a wild claim that was totally unrealistic.

The Allies are stuck on the Anzio beaches. The partisans are resisting in Rome but the Nazis are rounding up Jews, Communists, Partisans and others and sending them to camps and Auschwitz. Pope Pius has a moral dilemma: does he protest or ameliorate his statements? The Pope is hiding Jews and Partisans in Vatican properties so he believes caution is needed.

The Nazis are continually rounding up people and torturing them in prisons. The Pope is aware but is in a quandary about how to respond.

Wilhelm Hollman is an SS Colonel who is a liaison with General Wolff (head of SS in Italy) and the Nazi command structure in Rome. He has an interesting family background! Divorced from his wife Bianca – they fell out and attempted to resolve their issues by shooting each other!! They survive the shootings! The real reason for the falling out is revealed later in the novel. But she is now resident in Rome with her daughter, Teresa. Eventually, Teresa joins the Partisans. Meanwhile, his son has emigrated to America joins an elite troop and is now fighting in Italy.

The research is excellent and the wartime raids and strategies are described in detail. There are many heroes and villains. These wartime exploits convey the true horror of war and the nature of the Nazi war crimes.

I really enjoyed the Pope’s dilemmas and although I feel he perhaps could have been more vocal in his opposition, the author gives a balanced view of the moral maze. Some of the coincidental meetings between Hollmann and his family members during the novel are rather contrived. However, that should not distract too much. A new author (to me) but one I shall be returning to!

Anybody else enjoyed this book?