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Publisher's Summary

A tale of terrorism, espionage, and an epic struggle for justice in an America on the verge, sparked by a massive and mysterious explosion in New York Harbor in 1916.

That year, while the Allied and Central forces waged war in Europe, a group of German saboteurs blew up Black Tom Island, a spit of land in New York Harbor within earshot of downtown Manhattan. The subsequent hail of missiles and gunpowder devastated much of lower New York City. The attack, so massive that as far away as Maryland people could feel the ground shake, had been shockingly easy. America was crisscrossed with networks of German agents, hiding in full daylight, an "enemy within" plotting further, deadlier attacks. All the way up to the president, officials had known something like this could happen, and yet nothing had been done.

Twenty years later, the German government had still managed to evade responsibility for the crime, and probably would have continued to, were it not for the determination of three lawyers named McCloy, Peaslee, and Martin. These men, most crucially the young John McCloy, made it their mission to solve a mystery that began during the First World War and barely ended before the second.

The Detonators is a fascinating portrait of these men and their time, an era in which the rising American establishment engaged the world. It is also the dramatic love story of John and Ellen McCloy, and the first full accounting of a crime and cover-up that resonates strongly in post-9/11 America.

©2006 Chad Millman; (P)2006 Tantor Media Inc

Critic Reviews

  • Publishers Weekly Starred Review
  • Kirkus Starred Review

"Gripping." (Publishers Weekly)
"From a storytelling perspective, Millman commendably rises above a dry recitation of briefs and rulings." (Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kristi R.
  • Milwaukie, OR, United States
  • 08-24-13

Little known story of terrorism via Germany in WWI

I enjoyed this true story of German saboteurs in America including a bombing that measured 5 on the Richter scale.
It was unbelievable that the United States and especially President Wilson were so naïve that they had no counter espionage agents in place.

The best part of this tale was the story of John McCloy and his wife Ellen. He was a lawyer that got involved in the trial to bring justice to the owners of the plant that was sabotaged by the German spies. She was fearless in her stance to help her man, including once following an agent into a men's restroom just in time to see him climb out the window to escape.

This was an important story to know and I am glad I read it. Lloyd James narration was good, if nothing special.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Read great,great story telling.

Would you consider the audio edition of The Detonators to be better than the print version?

Yes great story telling,narrating

What about Lloyd James’s performance did you like?

Kept my attention and intrest

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Neither ,familiar with past remember the history of this story

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Eileen
  • Thornton, PA, United States
  • 10-21-10

A part of history I didn't know...

Millman brings a little recognized part of history to life. He tells the story in a way that keeps one coming back to find out what happened.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    out of 5 stars
  • Chris
  • Willits, CA, United States
  • 11-09-08

Interesting story

A very interesting tale told well.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • ChuckR
  • Port St Lucie, FL
  • 08-21-16

Little known Acts of sabotage

An eye opener both historically and legally. I wad surprised by how John mccloy got his start in public life