Book Review: An Affair of Spies by Ronald H. Balson


Title: An Affair of Spies

By: Ronald H. Balson

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 336

Release Date: September 13th, 2022

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Rating: ★★★☆☆


Summary from Goodreads:

From the winner of the National Jewish Book Award--A spy mission to rescue a defector from Germany and prevent the Nazis from creating an atomic bomb.

Nathan Silverman grew up in Berlin in the 1920s, the son of a homemaker and a theoretical physicist. His idyllic childhood was soon marred by increasing levels of bigotry against his family and the rest of the Jewish community, and after his uncle is arrested on Kristallnacht, he leaves Germany for New York City with only his mother's wedding ring to sell for survival.

While attending an evening course at Columbia in 1941, Nathan notices a recruitment poster on a university wall and decides to enlist in the military and help fight the Nazi regime. To his surprise, he is quickly selected for a special assignment; he is trained as a spy, and ordered to report to the Manhattan Project. There he learns that the Allies are racing to develop a nuclear weapon before the Nazis, and a German theoretical physicist is hoping to defect. The physicist was a friend of his father's, and Nathan's mission is to return to Berlin via France and smuggle him out of Europe.

Nathan will be accompanied by Dr. Allison Fisher, a brilliant young scientist who can speak French; he travels to her lab at the University of Chicago for a crash course in nuclear physics, then they embark on their adventure. Nathan and Allison soon develop feelings for one another, but as their relationship deepens they move ever closer to their dangerous goal. Will they be able to escape Europe with the defector and start a new life together, or will they fail their mission and become two more casualties of war?

An Affair of Spies is an action-packed tale of heroism and love in the face of unspeakable evil. Author Ronald H. Balson has applied his unmatched talent for evocative and painstakingly authentic storytelling to the high-stakes world of espionage and created his most thrilling novel yet.


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I have always been drawn to world war 2 era stories and the emotions that they bring. It is a reminder of what human kind can is capable of in the face of the horror before them. The power to overcome. The power to rise above. This book is one of those stories, although it didn't bring as much emotion as I am so used to with this genre.

Ronald H. Balson has a way with words. His story was easy to follow and his characters are beautifully carved, but I found the emotion of the era lacking. I really wanted to love this story, but couldn't find reading cadence that put me in the mood. It was as if there was a story in front of me that had no soul.

Still, in my disappointment I found an adequate story from start to finish. 

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.

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