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The Ratline  By  cover art

The Ratline

By: Philippe Sands
Narrated by: Philippe Sands, Katja Riemann, Stephen Fry
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Publisher's summary

"Hypnotic, shocking, and unputdownable." (John le Carré, internationally renowned bestselling author)

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 U.S. 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

Critic reviews

"Gripping...fascinating and important, told in vivid detail...fiercely inquiring...suspenseful...extraordinary." (The New York Times Book Review)

"Fascinating and haunting, a disquieting book that raises more questions than Sands could possibly answer...a book that should be read and pondered again and again." (BookPage)

"Part detective story and part love story...Sands's ability to tease out Horst's emotional, and often contradictory, views of his father as an indicted war criminal is fascinating...he unlocks here a series of provocative questions about culpability, collective guilt, and the advancement of international law." (LA Review of Books)