Book Review: Fear Itself by: Andrew Rosenheim

Rating: 4/5

Publisher: Overlook Hardcover

Publish Date: October 25, 2012

Origins: From Publisher for Review

Format: Hardcover

Order From:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: Set in the tense and uncertain years before the Second World War, when America was still largely conflicted about entering the war on either side, Andrew Rosenheim’s thriller Fear Itself offers a rich depiction of history as it was—and as it might have been. Jimmy Nessheim, a young Special Agent in the fledgling FBI, is assigned to infiltrate a new German–American organization known as the Bund. Ardently pro-Nazi, the Bund is conspiring to sabotage American efforts against Adolf Hitler. But as Nessheim’s investigation takes him into the very heart of the Bund, it becomes increasingly clear that something far more sinister is at work, something that seems to lead directly to the White House. Drawn into the center of Washington’s high society, Nessheim finds himself caught up in a web of political intrigue and secret lives. But as he moves closer to the truth, an even more lethal plot emerges, one that could rewrite history.

With sharp wit and a keen eye for period details, Rosenheim fully immerses the reader in Depression-era America. He seamlessly weaves into the narrative larger-than-life figures such as J. Edgar Hoover, Clyde Tolson, and Lucy Mercer Rutherford, as well as historical events like the 1939 pro-Nazi rally held at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. The first in a series chronicling Agent Nessheim’s adventures throughout the war, Fear Itself establishes Andrew Rosenheim as a spectacular new talent.

Review: ‘Fear Itself’ takes the reader into a tumultuous time in American history: the late 1930s before the start of World War II. Even thought America’s a melting pot, there were many who held tightly to their cultural beliefs and practices. Most especially are the Germans immigrants who are supporters of Hitler during his rise to power. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is still fledgling organization, headed by J. Edgar Hoover, and green Special Agent Jimmy Nessheim only wants to make a difference. Being the child of German immigrants, he is particularly sensitive to these issues and the perfect candidate to go uncover into the ‘Bund’. The Bund is a German-American group with branches all over the US who are up to a lot more than sharing recipes for schnitzel. As Nessheim digs further, he finds there is way more than meets the eye to this group and they have connections even into the heart of Washington, D.C. ‘Fear Itself’ is great semi-alternate historical fiction. I’ve always been fascinated by this time period and Mr. Rosenheim makes it come alive with his acute attention to detail. The characters are definitely products of their time and the novel includes historical figures, such as J. Edgar Hoover, interacting with the fictional characters. I enjoyed every step along the path with Special Agent Nessheim as he raced to unweave the tangled web of intrigue.


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