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Publisher's Summary

"Hypnotic, shocking, and unputdownable." (John le Carré)

From the author of the internationally acclaimed, award-winning East West Street: A tale of Nazi lives, mass murder, love, cold war espionage, a mysterious death in the Vatican - and "the Ratline", the Nazi escape route to Peron's Argentina.

Baron Otto von Wächter, Austrian lawyer, husband, father, high Nazi official, senior SS officer, former governor of Galicia during the war, creator and overseer of the Krakow ghetto, indicted after as a war criminal for the mass murder of more than 100,000 Poles, hunted by the Soviets, the Americans, the British, by Simon Wiesenthal, on the run for three years, from 1945 to 1948....

Philippe Sands pieces together, in riveting detail, Wächter's extraordinary, shocking story. Given full access to the Wächter family archives - journals, diaries, tapes, and more - and with the assistance of the Wächters' son Horst, who believes his father to have been a "good man", Sands writes of Wächter's rise through the Nazi high command, his "blissful" marriage and family life as their world was brought to ruin, and his four-year flight to escape justice - to the Tirol, to Rome, and the Vatican; given a new identity, on his way to a new life via "the Ratline" to Perón's Argentina, the escape route taken by Eichmann, Mengele, and thousands of other Nazis. Wächter's escape was cut short by his mysterious, shocking death in Rome, in the midst of the burgeoning Cold War (was he being recruited in postwar Italy by the Americans and the US Army Counter Intelligence Corps or by the Soviet NKVD or by both; or was he poisoned by one side or the other, as his son believes - or by both?)....

An extraordinary discovery, told up-close through access to a trove of family correspondence between Wächter and his wife - part historical detective story, part love story, part family memoir, part Cold War espionage thriller.

"Breathtaking, gripping, shattering." (Elif Shafak)

©2021 Philippe Sands (P)2021 Random House Audio

What listeners say about The Ratline

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The ratline

Wonderful story The crime was obvious from beginning but the story shows how difficult the truth is to be validated and accepted by some Great story My country should be ashamed to allow the rat line to exist

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Breathless

After living in Austrian and in Italy for many years, I felt that I had read a fair amount of texts on the subject of the Final Solution. Nevertheless, this book left me breathless. The primary source material, the ability of the author to tell the story from many points of vuew and in many voices, was riveting. This is a must read book, told and read in the most profound way. It should on every school 20th century syllabus. I can not wait to read East West Street.

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Great Follow Up to East West Street

Like his last book and also the Ratline podcast, Philippe Sands is meticulous yet sensitive, his historical writing is so very human and personal that one cannot help but be swept up in the story. I hope to one day meet this man so I can tell him how much his works have affected me. Highly recommended.

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Excellent historical whodunnit

This was an incredible book. I enjoyed it immensely. The “plot” surprises were unexpected and so engaging. The story leads to profound questions about collective guilt, the Cold War mentality, human nature, family ties, and to what extent time heals. The multiple readers of the audio book was a good choice.

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Meticulous and well researched!

I truly enjoyed this book. I learned so much information and thank the author for his meticulous research and dedication in searching for the truth regarding this family.

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Fascinating and unexpectedly touching

Like Daniel Mendelsohn's riveting and deeply moving account in "The Lost," this story of tracking down every last clue about the "exalted life and mysterious death" of a Nazi fugitive from justice and sharing it with his son, who was determined to cling to his father's memory as a man of moral principle, is both fascinating and unexpectedly touching. Highly recommended by this listener.

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Ratline strong overall

The weakest part of the book is the lack of focus on Otto’s crimes in Poland and Ukraine. It is understood that he was wanted for roundups and killings, but I just didn’t get a feel for his actions as head of the Nazi General Territories. His wife’s cloying letters took up a lot of the book, which didn’t give me much insight into Otto. I liked the readers. I wanted to know more about the Bishop’s reasons for helping Otto and the other escaping killers.

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Fascinating story

Very unique perspective on a most devastating time in world history. Courageous, honest and impactful.

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One of the absolute best books

Great research ! Thank you ! Impeccably organized and read by all 3 readers . So much information and so much history .

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  • Nj
  • 02-10-21

Another over-narrated text

Too much of Audible's narrations are by folks who over exclaim their narration. In this instance, the narrator(s) too seem to think stentorian-like declaration is effective. It aint.