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Call It Treason by George Howe Free PDF novel (1949)

Call It Treason by George Howe Free PDF novel (1949)

Call It Treason by George Howe

Excerpt from the book's introduction

There were three motives that led German prisoners of war to volunteer for service behind their own lines as spies for the American Army "riches and risk and faith." One of each was involved in the mission described in this book, in which three men were dropped by parachute across the Rhine ahead of our advancing forces: the Tiger, a Communist with a greed for power and wealth; Paluka, a carefree daredevil looking only for adventure; and finally Happy, the son of a Berlin doctor, who knew that by risking his life he could hasten the day when the Nazi evil would be ended. 

We follow Happy's progress with mounting excitement, hoping intensely that he will get back with his report across the flaming Rhine, knowing that any false step will betray him. The author gives a fascinating and authentic account of the complicated technique of such a mission. 


And as Happy travels through Ulm and Heidelberg to Mannheim, we get a startling picture of what Germany was like just before the end. Call It Treason is a real and moving adventure in our modern world, involving personal danger and individual courage as stirring as any ever invented in spy romances.

Review by Reader

This is an excellent book about the waning days of WWII, giving us a view of Germany when only the Gestapo (and by extension their far-reaching bureaucracy) was still functioning efficiently.

Near the end of 1944, the Allies had reached the Rhine and realized their French spies could no longer help them behind enemy lines. They looked for ways to indirectly recruit Germans (or those who could pass for German) to go into enemy territory and report back on positions, munitions and recruit others in the cause (they weren’t above using Communists, for example, to help end the war). They called these agents “Joes,” and they are mostly referred to by their codenames throughout the story. The narrator tells us the story has been:

...pieced together from all we can remember and a little we can presume, of three Joes who took their chance; one for riches and one for risk and one for faith.

Those Joes are:

--Tiger, a rather boastful and untrustworthy opportunist with communist ties whose talents and past experiences are nevertheless worth the risk (for riches).
--Paluka, the radio operator of Russian descent (for risk). This is one example of how the book is different from the movie; the radio operator in the movie is an American officer with a different perspective.
--Happy, a 19-year-old German POW who had been a medic in the Luftwaffe (for faith, motivated by a desire to see peace reinstated for his people once it’s clear they cannot win the war).

Once the mission begins in February 1945, the story is mostly through Happy’s eyes as he journeys from his drop in Bavaria to Mannheim (the other agents were dropped separately and ended up in a safe-house in Mannheim where they were tasked with paving the way for the Allies once they’re able to enter the city). Happy has five days to make his observations and report back.

This is a book where the details enrich and add tension and atmosphere rather than bog the story down and bear the stamp of someone who has lived it rather than just read about it. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in WWII or espionage fiction. It definitely deserves to be rescued from obscurity (I was quite surprised to find an ebook available for this).


Author: George Howe
 Publication Date: 1949

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