TLDR: World War II drama around a Jewish scientist stuck in Auschwitz who may be key to ending the war. Will the United States be able to save him before time runs out? To do so they will need the help of Nathan Blum and send him on a mission that may very well cost him his life.
“Therefore was the first man, Adam, created alone, to teach us that whoever destroys a single life, the Bible considers it as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a single life, the Bible considers it as if he saved an entire world.” – From the Mishna Sanhedrin.
The One Man by Andrew Gross is a story set in the middle of World War II, where one man, a Jew named Alfred Mendl has the chance to change history and the war as we know it. Unfortunately, he is stuck inside Nazi controlled Paris wondering every day whether his fate will be freedom or death, expelled from Nazi territory or sent to a concentration camp? When the papers are found to be forged, Mendl and his family are sent to Auschwitz where lives are lost and hope dies.
It is to this stage of uncertainty that we are introduced to Nathan Blum, a lucky man who escaped from the Polish Ghetto that claimed the life of his mother, father, and sister. When the chance comes to serve the United States and extract a resource to potentially end the war and the Nazi regime once and for all, he jumps at the chance, immediately signing up on a dangerous mission to enter Auschwitz and attempt to extract Mendl.
The main setting of this story is Auschwitz, however we have flashbacks to Blum growing up and see the parallel story development of Blum preparing for deployment to Auschwitz. While in the concentration camp, Mendl knows that in order to maintain all of his information, he must find a way to record it, a task that proves difficult in Auschwitz as the camp guards keep finding and destroying his records. Hope seems lost until he meets Leo, a chess prodigy whose keen intellect might be the key to winning the war….if they can escape.
Will Nathan, Alfred, and Leo ever find each other inside of Auschwitz or will their fate be death along with any other inferior creature that deigns to get in the way of the Nazi war machine?
I really enjoyed this book and had a difficult time placing it down. Andrew Gross wrote a fantastic story with engaging characters and an easy progressing story. The words were haunting and poignant with selected passages from the Jewish Torah. While I will admit that the story had a fair bit of luck on its side, it still did not take away from a good story that kept me captivated until the very end. If you enjoy World War II era stories, you will enjoy this book. Please keep in mind though that this is Historical FICTION and while it is based during a real event and in a real location, the story itself did not happen the way the author wrote it, nor is this based on any recorded exploits of a historical figure. I am giving this book 5/5 stars for a wonderful story.
I received this book for free from the Publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.