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In this moving and compelling memoir about parent and child, father and daughter, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lucinda Franks discovers that the remote, nearly impassive man she grew up with had in fact been a daring spy behind enemy lines in World War II. Sworn to secrecy, he began revealing details of his wartime activities only in the last years of his life as he becam In this moving and compelling memoir about parent and child, father and daughter, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lucinda Franks discovers that the remote, nearly impassive man she grew up with had in fact been a daring spy behind enemy lines in World War II. Sworn to secrecy, he began revealing details of his wartime activities only in the last years of his life as he became afflicted with Alzheimer's. His exploits revealed a man of remarkable bravado -- posing as a Nazi guard, slipping behind enemy lines to blow up ammunition dumps, and being flown to one of the first concentration camps liberated by the Allies to report on the atrocities found there.My Father's Secret War is an intimate account of Franks coming to know her own father after years of estrangement. Looking back at letters he had written her mother in the early days of WWII, Franks glimpses a loving man full of warmth. But after the grimmest assignments of the war his tone shifts, settling into an all-too-familiar distance. Franks learns about him -- beyond the alcoholism and adultery -- and comes to know the man he once was. Her story is haunting, and beautifully told, even as the tragedy becomes clear: Franks finally comes to know her father, but only as he is slipping further into his illness. Lucinda Franks understands her father as the disease claims him. My Father's Secret War is a triumph of love over secrets, and a tribute to the power of the connection of family.


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In this moving and compelling memoir about parent and child, father and daughter, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lucinda Franks discovers that the remote, nearly impassive man she grew up with had in fact been a daring spy behind enemy lines in World War II. Sworn to secrecy, he began revealing details of his wartime activities only in the last years of his life as he becam In this moving and compelling memoir about parent and child, father and daughter, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lucinda Franks discovers that the remote, nearly impassive man she grew up with had in fact been a daring spy behind enemy lines in World War II. Sworn to secrecy, he began revealing details of his wartime activities only in the last years of his life as he became afflicted with Alzheimer's. His exploits revealed a man of remarkable bravado -- posing as a Nazi guard, slipping behind enemy lines to blow up ammunition dumps, and being flown to one of the first concentration camps liberated by the Allies to report on the atrocities found there.My Father's Secret War is an intimate account of Franks coming to know her own father after years of estrangement. Looking back at letters he had written her mother in the early days of WWII, Franks glimpses a loving man full of warmth. But after the grimmest assignments of the war his tone shifts, settling into an all-too-familiar distance. Franks learns about him -- beyond the alcoholism and adultery -- and comes to know the man he once was. Her story is haunting, and beautifully told, even as the tragedy becomes clear: Franks finally comes to know her father, but only as he is slipping further into his illness. Lucinda Franks understands her father as the disease claims him. My Father's Secret War is a triumph of love over secrets, and a tribute to the power of the connection of family.

30 review for My Father's Secret War: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    Not quite what I expected. I thought the story would reveal more about the story behind the box of WWII trinkets that a daughter finds in her fathers old age that led her to find out if he was a spy. She did find out clues here and there but most of the book revealed little about the missions or her fathers background but was more of a memior about her relationship with her father and her own demons. The irony is Lucinda Frank's who is apprently wealthy (married to NY's DA) has a farm house and Not quite what I expected. I thought the story would reveal more about the story behind the box of WWII trinkets that a daughter finds in her fathers old age that led her to find out if he was a spy. She did find out clues here and there but most of the book revealed little about the missions or her fathers background but was more of a memior about her relationship with her father and her own demons. The irony is Lucinda Frank's who is apprently wealthy (married to NY's DA) has a farm house and downtown NY apartment complains about her father being a financial drain when he is living in a run down area and barely has enough money to pay his electricity. Later she reveals guilt about not supporting him more but it seems like she wanted to know about her father's past to fix her failed relationship with her father and 'fix' her guilt more then really wanting to know about why he was the way he was. This is evident in the fact that she always described herself as a reporter doing research not as a daughter wanting to really "know" who her father was.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    I must admit that I didn't make it through. The writing was amazing (the author has won a Pulitzer) but the story seemed to cycle through the same sequence over and over- memories of childhood or moments from current life, the author's interrogation of her father about his secret war time activities, then speculation about said activities. I did want to persevere, because I think that there was some really amazing material related to her father's top secret career, but every time I went to pick i I must admit that I didn't make it through. The writing was amazing (the author has won a Pulitzer) but the story seemed to cycle through the same sequence over and over- memories of childhood or moments from current life, the author's interrogation of her father about his secret war time activities, then speculation about said activities. I did want to persevere, because I think that there was some really amazing material related to her father's top secret career, but every time I went to pick it up, I started feeling a bit drained and was never up for the inevitable depression that would ensue after reading it. I think that if a person were currently in the midst of caring for an aging parent, this book might offer a sympathetic perspective, and also history buffs would probably enjoy it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Talulah Mankiller

    Lucinda Franks grew up in one of those hellish, emotionally stunted postwar families that baby boomers are always writing about. Mommy and daddy didn’t love each other anymore but stuck together “for the kids”; daddy was a functioning alcoholic and mommy was extremely obese, which Franks seems to think are like, matching disorders. Anyway. There was a lot of screaming and yelling and shouting and withholding of affection on mom’s part, not to mention some outright verbal abuse; daddy just wasn’t Lucinda Franks grew up in one of those hellish, emotionally stunted postwar families that baby boomers are always writing about. Mommy and daddy didn’t love each other anymore but stuck together “for the kids”; daddy was a functioning alcoholic and mommy was extremely obese, which Franks seems to think are like, matching disorders. Anyway. There was a lot of screaming and yelling and shouting and withholding of affection on mom’s part, not to mention some outright verbal abuse; daddy just wasn’t there. He was either passed out drunk on the couch, or he was at his mistress’. Anyway, at some point as an adult Franks figures out why her dad is so fucked up: he was a spy during WWII! FUN TIMES! He didn’t particularly want to talk about it with her, both because it was still classified (holy shit, people, seriously), and because he once got really mad and threw a grenade into a foxhole full of Japanese soldiers. For some reason, he wasn’t particularly proud of moments like that. I found this book deeply, deeply annoying, because Franks seemed bound and determined to see her dad as either a hero or a horrible person, and the truth is that he was a spy and really, is she the only person on earth who’s never seen a goddamn spy movie? Spies are some shady motherfuckers. They have to be, otherwise they would suck at their jobs, get caught, and die horribly. And yet, they also do a lot of stuff that’s incredibly self-sacrificing. Because of this, they do not fit easily into either the “hero” or the “antagonist” categories. So stop trying to cram your dad into one or the other, Franks, even if he is your daddy and you love him and want him to be awesome and without flaw. And I mean…at the end of the day, I was just really troubled by Lucinda Franks’ apparent inability to understand or accept moral ambiguity. In her mind, it was apparently heroic of her dad to throw the grenade into the foxhole full of Japanese soldiers because he’d seen some of them horribly torturing a nun earlier. But her dad was himself obviously haunted by what he’d done, and kept saying things like, “When I saw them up close, they were just kids.” Not that I’m defending nun-bayoneting soldiers, but I find it funny that Franks sees the situation as completely black and white, whereas her father saw it as something complex and morally confusing. Did those soldiers/kids suck? Yep. Was throwing a grenade into a hole full of probably teenaged boys the act of a hero? Somehow, I don’t think so. Also, on a totally shallow note, ewww. Anyway, it’s funny, because Franks went OFF on daddy when she later found out that he once shot a double-agent in the back of the head. Because said double agent was “just” passing information off to the Russians, so shooting him was not the act of a hero. I could get into the racial politics of all of this, but you know what? I’m tired of Franks and her crap and I don’t want to give her any more of my precious brain space. This book sucked. Don’t read it. The end. Recommended for: Ha!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The book's premise sounded promising - getting to know your elderly father's secretive past was very compelling. I guess I should praise her honesty for showing herself warts and all but I detested the author. I particularly hated her disregard for anything that could bring her father happiness and her constant mean bitterness about her childhood. She is successful and rich (a house in upstate new york, a house on the cape and a house in NYC) with a rich and powerful husband and her father is li The book's premise sounded promising - getting to know your elderly father's secretive past was very compelling. I guess I should praise her honesty for showing herself warts and all but I detested the author. I particularly hated her disregard for anything that could bring her father happiness and her constant mean bitterness about her childhood. She is successful and rich (a house in upstate new york, a house on the cape and a house in NYC) with a rich and powerful husband and her father is living in a small rental that he can't keep up with the bills. "We have three households to maintain," she says to his friend who comes to her about her father's financial difficulties. THREE HOUSEHOLDS! What a burden! Her father's onset of dementia (and I wonder if it was dementia or just the inevitable onset of age) and his fight with cancer was completely ignored by the author as she nurses her grudges about his behaviour as he struggles with being in a marriage with a difficult and immature woman who doesn't support him after he returns from war. Despite having witnessed horrific things in World War II and being called upon to commit acts that he found morally repugnant, the author, like his wife, judges him and condemns him and brings everything back to her eleven year self. One particularly horrific passage sticks in my mind. Her father finally confesses that he was forced to assasinate a man he respected because the man was selling secrets that the US government wanted to the Soviet Union and the author goes off on him about how it didn't matter anyway. Her smug "intellectual" take on the fact that it didn't matter because the Soviets got the info they needed anyway as her father confesses his deepest and darkest secret made me want to smack her. Her father wasn't blessed with the ability to gain this insight based on her research almost 50 years after the fact, he was ordered to do something and had to believe it had a purpose or else he would find himself as guilty as the Nazis he condemned. Did she never wonder why he hated the Communists so much? "Sharper than a serpent's tooth is an ungrateful child". I hope to God that I show more compassion and understanding of my parents and their human foibles than Lucinda Franks showed to her poor father, Thomas Franks.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    "Badgering". That's the word that comes to mind when I think about this book. I had originally thought it was going to be about the author's father, and what he may or may not have been doing during World War II, but instead it read such that the author was primary, and the father seemed an afterthought. While I understand what she was trying to find out about her father - possibly a reason why he was so distant while she was growing up, or a cause to the alcoholism - the way she went about it s "Badgering". That's the word that comes to mind when I think about this book. I had originally thought it was going to be about the author's father, and what he may or may not have been doing during World War II, but instead it read such that the author was primary, and the father seemed an afterthought. While I understand what she was trying to find out about her father - possibly a reason why he was so distant while she was growing up, or a cause to the alcoholism - the way she went about it sometimes left the line between "daughter" and "journalist" indistinct. And that's what leads to my one word, "badgering". It seemed to me at times that her desire to know the truth about her father's war-time doings made her pester the poor man, even while he was battling Alzheimer's. It kind of makes me wonder - he kept all that inside for a good portion of his life...maybe he didn't really want for you to know... The truly frustrating part, though, was that after all the endless questions, the leading sentences, the shameless attempts to get an answer for the book, no concrete answer was given!

  6. 4 out of 5

    William Natale

    Excellent piece of writing.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Maurer

    I hated this book. I have never been so happy to finish a book, so I could put it aside and never look at it again. At first the book made me angry but now I am just exhausted. I mean I guess I should give the author props for the way she portrayed herself "warts and all", but to me she came across as unlikable and frustrating that I couldn't get past some of the things she did/said. 1. The books title is very misleading. The title and the dust jacket makes it seem as if the story will be about T I hated this book. I have never been so happy to finish a book, so I could put it aside and never look at it again. At first the book made me angry but now I am just exhausted. I mean I guess I should give the author props for the way she portrayed herself "warts and all", but to me she came across as unlikable and frustrating that I couldn't get past some of the things she did/said. 1. The books title is very misleading. The title and the dust jacket makes it seem as if the story will be about Tom Franks and World War II or his time as a spy. It wasn't until disc 7 of 10 (I listened to the audio book) that Tom actually began talking about his experience. Before that it was all about what Lucinda imagined her father did. Even after Tom Franks began telling his story the focus was on Lucinda, how did it affected her. 2. Parts of this book seem exaggerated. Then there are the times she admits to asking people to lie or at least exaggerate things to make her point seem stronger. She asks a doctor to lie to her father about his liver test, because she wants to scare him into getting treatment. She also asks her dad to break down during his taped interview about what he saw in the war. So early on I learned that the author has no problem putting on a show to get the end results she wants, so I see her as an unreliable/ untrustworthy narrator. And when things seem exaggerated I wonder if they are. 3. Ugh this author is so annoying. Even when the book starts to talk about her father she has to interrupt to talk make it all about her. During his interview for museum she randomly interrupts the narrative of his interview to tell us about a map she found and the things she knows. I don't really care. It's your father's narrative that I picked up this book to hear about. She also randomly delves into her mothers story during World War two. Her mother is dead and she attempts to write a first person narrative from her perspective. It adds nothing to the story, so I am not sure why it was included and it wasn't anything important, it was about ironing shirts and friction in her marriage early on and how she was head over heels for her husband, and then there was the conversation that Lucinda reports her parents having over her cradle. I doubt that this is a story that Mrs. Franks told her girls as they were growing up and Lucinda could not remember it, so it was some random fanciful fiction that she created. Why add it to this book, it makes me question the reliability of this narration. 4. She infantilizes her father. At the half way point she is cleaning out his house (It seems like he is a hoarder) and redecorating. She calls his house her dollhouse. Your father is a grown man! Not your doll! She is all a flutter describing the posters she found and rugs and the curtains. Never asking his opinion and then she gets mad when her father doesn't appreciate her work or when he doesn't sleep when she thinks it is appropriate. At one point she descends on him late at night. She arrives at 10pm and lets herself into his home. He is out. She is angry that he isn't there to greet her, doesn't he know how late it is? She then proceeds to wait for him. When he gets home late at night she admits that he has said that he enjoys being a night owl and likes to stay up late. She then whines about how he needs to be quite because it is late and she is tired. Keep in mind that he is in his 70's and it is his small house. Lucinda Franks is no poor woman either, so if she was really concerned about her sleep then when he wasn't home go to a hotel. She seems determine to place herself in the role of mother and her father in the role of disobedient child. She withholds a medical information from her father, and then decides to clean out his house and divide up his stuff between her sister and herself. This made me upset, he is still alive and you are descending on his house like vultures to get the stuff you want. Later she learns that Tom had sold some of their heirlooms because he couldn't afford to pay his bills, and Lucinda gets angry that he sold the stuff that should have gone to her. It was his stuff, he could do whatever he wanted with it! And what was he supposed to do starve so she could have another dinner plate? She had already made clear that she had refused to help him financially. 5. His affair. Lucinda's father had an affair and she never forgave him for it. And ok I get it somethings you never out grow but come on. Her mother had been dead for 10 years and anytime her father father brings up Pat she digs her heels in and stomps her feet crosses her arms over her chest and screams "But she made you not love Daddy! I hate her!" Metaphorically speaking of course, and I get that reaction at 7 or 11 but as an adult really. What she and your father did was wrong but she didn't make him stop loving your mother, by all account they were not suited for each other and as an adult certainly you can move past your childish but, but I wanted a family unit that loved each other. Her determination to make the world revolve around her is unbelievable. The affair started before she was born and at one point she starts to believe that Pat was using her father so that she, Lucinda, might help Pat get her poems published. ...I was just dumbfounded. Really you thing that Pat was like this man's baby or future child might someday be connected with the literary world so I am going to have a decades long affair because it might help me get published!? Ummm yeah probably not. Then Pat moves on and marries someone else and instead of showing the slightest concern for what her father is going through she throws her magazine across the room stomps around screaming about it and that Pat didn't tell them goodbye. ... Wow 6. Tom Franks was maybe an alcoholic. I am not really sure because Lucinda thought he was, he never admitted to being one, and Lucinda asked the doctor to lie about the test results so yeah. Anyway Lucinda decides to stage and intervention. She asked people to use reason (ok), histrionics (wait umm), and threats (...) to make him go to rehab. They she proceeded to harangue him for three hours. I am pretty sure in my limited google search for information that, that is not the way you are supposed to go about an intervention. But he relents and goes to rehab but never admits he had a problem but he stops drinking but them Lucinda is mad because he never admitted it. 7. Did I mention that this author comes across as a terrible human being. I mean I get that she is understandably frustrated with her father, but then she doesn't even listen to him when he does try and talk to her. She is bound and determined to get her father's story out of him because she is convinced that it will save him or bring them closer together or something. She ignores his repeated pleas that he doesn't want to talk about it or he is not allowed to talk about it, because the great Lucinda knows best. I get that there are an alarming number of people who doubt the Holocaust happened and so it is important to get testimony and first hand accounts from survivors and witnesses, but shouldn't there be compassion show to those same survivors and witnesses? Instead of strong arming them to tell their stories wait for them to be ready and realize that some of them never will be ready and that has to be ok. Plus her father was concerned that he was not allowed to speak about somethings. The interviewer at the museum assured him that it would "Probably be fine." Probably!? Probably!? This was not a new concern he had been mentioning it for months. Why couldn't someone try and find out for him. That struck me as so rude and patronizing. You are concerned about an order you were given 50 years ago we are not going to actually address your concern just pat you on the head and say that order was given so long ago I am going to make the determination that it is just fine to ignore it. I agree with them that it was (and turned out to be) fine for him to talk about it, but the interviewer was not going to be the one to face the consequences if she was wrong. 8. It seemed to me that Lucinda loves and hates her father. She wanted desperately to create a story to redeem her father in her eyes, so that she could forgive all the times he let her down and failed her. So far this book has come across as historical fiction cobbled together from "clues" to reinvent her childhood to make it fit better into the mold she had always longed for. This book's title and dust jacket made me think there was so much promise but it failed to deliver. I strongly suggest you pass over it if you are looking for a book that actually addresses WWII

  8. 4 out of 5

    Margie

    Both more and less than what I expected when I picked this book up off the library shelf, nevertheless I found it to be a compelling read. Initially I thought to find a recounting of the heroic adventures of a WWII spy. Instead, I discovered the author's introspective recounting of her troubled relationship with a distant and hard-to-understand parent. The pages of this story relate the author's struggles to come to terms with her father and the role he played in her life, a role she often felt w Both more and less than what I expected when I picked this book up off the library shelf, nevertheless I found it to be a compelling read. Initially I thought to find a recounting of the heroic adventures of a WWII spy. Instead, I discovered the author's introspective recounting of her troubled relationship with a distant and hard-to-understand parent. The pages of this story relate the author's struggles to come to terms with her father and the role he played in her life, a role she often felt was distant and uncaring. Only in her later years - and even after he had passed - did she come to more completely comprehend the man her father had been, and how he did the best he knew how. I suppose it could read as just another memoir to many, but personally I found it to be a distinctly emotional read - one I both wanted to set aside, yet simultaneously felt I needed to finish. Perhaps this stems from the fact that I, too, had a difficult relationship with a father suffering from severe depression (although certainly not for the same reason!); as a result, I understood the frustrations and regrets, the feelings of being let down and/or taken advantage of. When does helping become enabling, or should a line even be drawn? And the conflict between the anger of never gaining that needed parental approval in juxtaposition with knowing that a good man in hard circumstances just didn't have it in him to express.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lil

    I wanted to like this book - I fell for the "Pulitzer Prize winning author" tagline - but it was too much like A Penny Always Has Two Sides: A Memoir of Growing Up in Wartime Germany: the majority of the book was about the author's knotty relationship with her parent and her attempts to assuage her guilt. Lucinda Franks is a better writer than Steffie Steinke, but I still ended up skimming huge amounts of description - it just gets too ponderous and really bogs down the pacing, which in many pla I wanted to like this book - I fell for the "Pulitzer Prize winning author" tagline - but it was too much like A Penny Always Has Two Sides: A Memoir of Growing Up in Wartime Germany: the majority of the book was about the author's knotty relationship with her parent and her attempts to assuage her guilt. Lucinda Franks is a better writer than Steffie Steinke, but I still ended up skimming huge amounts of description - it just gets too ponderous and really bogs down the pacing, which in many places is built on tracing minute clues often down dead-end paths. So by the time Franks finally uncovered her father's past, I was finding it very hard to care. Joyce Carol Oates' blurb about this book calls it "an unsparing double portrait." I think I'd have enjoyed it much more if we'd been spared one of those portraits.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lori Anderson

    Aw, man. I really wanted to like this book, particularly since it was a Pulitzer Prize winning book. If you've followed any of my reviews, you know I love to read WWII history and memoirs. This book had the makings of a good one, but it was sloooooow. I found myself drifting and dozing off and skimming. Franks could have left out a solid third of the book and tightened it up and it would have been a lot better. Sorry, not recommended. Lori Anderson Blog Shop Facebook Aw, man. I really wanted to like this book, particularly since it was a Pulitzer Prize winning book. If you've followed any of my reviews, you know I love to read WWII history and memoirs. This book had the makings of a good one, but it was sloooooow. I found myself drifting and dozing off and skimming. Franks could have left out a solid third of the book and tightened it up and it would have been a lot better. Sorry, not recommended. Lori Anderson Blog Shop Facebook

  11. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Boring. I kept waiting for the "a-ha" moment, the startling climax, which never came. I can't believe how this woman badgered her poor, Alzheimer's-ridden father for a good story (which wasn't good, after all). Oh, yeah, and by the way, no one cares about your name-dropping and life of privilege, Ms. Franks. Boring. I kept waiting for the "a-ha" moment, the startling climax, which never came. I can't believe how this woman badgered her poor, Alzheimer's-ridden father for a good story (which wasn't good, after all). Oh, yeah, and by the way, no one cares about your name-dropping and life of privilege, Ms. Franks.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    My father's Secret War was really about the Author's Secret war with her father. Like some of the other Reviewer's the book just didn't muster up to what I thought would be a WW11 memoir instead it became a Family memoir. Giving a rating of 3 is the best I can do for this book. My father's Secret War was really about the Author's Secret war with her father. Like some of the other Reviewer's the book just didn't muster up to what I thought would be a WW11 memoir instead it became a Family memoir. Giving a rating of 3 is the best I can do for this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    BLair Johnson

    An intriguing read... the author acts as detective, looking into her father's mysterious past and peeling away the layers like an onion, slowly and relentlessly. She gains a deeper understanding of her father and his inner demons from wartime. An intriguing read... the author acts as detective, looking into her father's mysterious past and peeling away the layers like an onion, slowly and relentlessly. She gains a deeper understanding of her father and his inner demons from wartime.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Martha Bogart

    Great book and great story. Excellent read. Terrible tragedy about how the horrors of war can change a person.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Translator Monkey

    Hard to qualify it as anything but a disappointment. If I were the sort of person who read reader comments on Amazon before picking up a book, I would have seen that many readers have found that the book is more about the author than about her father, and when it is about Dad, it's about his distance from the family and his affair, about his Alzheimer's, than about any nebulous information about what the author may have struggled to piece together about his efforts during the war. To be fair, th Hard to qualify it as anything but a disappointment. If I were the sort of person who read reader comments on Amazon before picking up a book, I would have seen that many readers have found that the book is more about the author than about her father, and when it is about Dad, it's about his distance from the family and his affair, about his Alzheimer's, than about any nebulous information about what the author may have struggled to piece together about his efforts during the war. To be fair, the author paints herself as a rather selfish and nearly-loathesome character, but in doing so, she begs for the reader's love and understanding. Just not what I was looking for. 2 star out of 5, because I was at least engaged enough to stick it through to the end.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dan Alpert

    Driven to relentless research, Lucinda Franks uncovers her father's hidden past, why he keeps it hidden, and how gradually easing it out of him both helps and hurts him and her. She carefully unfolds the story as she and we go along. But the answers can't be complete and aren't totally satisfying, and the suspense is mostly in the time it takes her to get the answers, not so much the material itself. It's worth the read for new insights into how WWII was fought and won, and what kind of sacrific Driven to relentless research, Lucinda Franks uncovers her father's hidden past, why he keeps it hidden, and how gradually easing it out of him both helps and hurts him and her. She carefully unfolds the story as she and we go along. But the answers can't be complete and aren't totally satisfying, and the suspense is mostly in the time it takes her to get the answers, not so much the material itself. It's worth the read for new insights into how WWII was fought and won, and what kind of sacrifices people like Tom Franks made, but it's not really a page-turner.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    She’s a good writer - but so clearly an adult child who’s not done her recovery work. WWII details were tedious as was the recounting of her painstaking research. She finally finds love from her father’s long-term mistress. She and her sister find God after their father’s death. He’s a despicable character - I fail to see the ardor with which she describes a war hero.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cate

    I enjoyed this but it wasn't quite what I was expecting from reading the back cover. It was more about the author and her relationship with her father rather than being about her father's war experience. Sure, there was some of that but it just didn't seem to be the focus. I enjoyed this but it wasn't quite what I was expecting from reading the back cover. It was more about the author and her relationship with her father rather than being about her father's war experience. Sure, there was some of that but it just didn't seem to be the focus.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Anita

    A memoir of a distant, cold father who hid his secret spy life during WWII.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lawanda

    Audiobook performed by Joyce Bean

  21. 4 out of 5

    Apryl McLean

    It was interesting watching her uncover her father's past, hidden from her all her father's life until he started suffering from dementia. It was also interesting seeing their changing relationship. It was interesting watching her uncover her father's past, hidden from her all her father's life until he started suffering from dementia. It was also interesting seeing their changing relationship.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sharonh

    very dull with no real conclusion to his "secret" very dull with no real conclusion to his "secret"

  23. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    I did not like the author and felt really bad for her father. This was not what I thought it would be.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    Five stars for the writing, but the way the author treated her father kept me from enjoying this book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    This book was absolutely eye-opening and equally devastating. Like her father, my grandfather was one of the first liberating soldiers to walk into the Nazi concentration camp at Ohrdruf. And also like her father, and every other soldier, my grandfather was forever changed. "Stunned into silence," the book says. The story of her trying to piece together her father's life, intrigued me, because I lost my grandfather when I was four. Reading her book gave me an idea of what that part of his life m This book was absolutely eye-opening and equally devastating. Like her father, my grandfather was one of the first liberating soldiers to walk into the Nazi concentration camp at Ohrdruf. And also like her father, and every other soldier, my grandfather was forever changed. "Stunned into silence," the book says. The story of her trying to piece together her father's life, intrigued me, because I lost my grandfather when I was four. Reading her book gave me an idea of what that part of his life may have been like for him, and gave me at least somewhat of a better understanding of what he was coping with.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Maurice Williams

    Though this is biography of a single person, this well-written book depicts human nature so well that we can see a little bit of everyone in this person. Lucinda Frank’s story of her father reaches beyond her father, reaches deep into what makes any of us persons, deeper than that, it encounters the reason why we are persons. Thomas Edward Franks is an enigmatic, silent man, wounded by what he experienced in life, wounding his family, and, in return, wounded by his family. Many of us could be des Though this is biography of a single person, this well-written book depicts human nature so well that we can see a little bit of everyone in this person. Lucinda Frank’s story of her father reaches beyond her father, reaches deep into what makes any of us persons, deeper than that, it encounters the reason why we are persons. Thomas Edward Franks is an enigmatic, silent man, wounded by what he experienced in life, wounding his family, and, in return, wounded by his family. Many of us could be described that way. We have different experiences, but the wounds we bear, the wounds we inflict are astonishingly similar. Tom Franks served his country during World War II, participating in top-secret, dangerous missions, including a very traumatic inspection of the first-discovered Nazi death camp. Something happened that changed him, perhaps the shock of the death camp. Withdrawing into himself, he would not speak of his war experiences. He drew away from his family. His wife’s bitter reaction was to nag and criticize him. His two daughters, caught in the middle, experienced the same kind of grief all dysfunctional families experience. Lucinda, the first-born, courageously penetrated her father’s aloofness. Her tenacious pursuit of the real Tom Franks hidden within his taciturn shell, takes the reader through the major event of our lifetime, World War II, which has shaped the destiny of all of us. What emerges is a human being like ourselves, displaying the same foibles we all, to some degree, display. Lucinda’s polished use of dialog, her deep characterization makes Tom alive, makes his family and friends alive. This is not just a story of one person in seven billion: it could be the story of our dear friend. It could be the story of ourself, so deeply does it penetrate what makes a human being human. In the end, after Tom Franks dies, Lucinda adds a spiritual dimension to her father’s existence. This is not merely a good biography; it is a great biography, one that holds our interest and edifies at the same time. The story of Thomas Edward Franks, who wanted to remain unknown, even from his family, will remain part of our literature, an adroitly written biography of a deeply human person, a powerful testimony of the unconditional love of a daughter devoted to her father.

  27. 4 out of 5

    thewanderingjew

    This book was disappointing. Touted as a memoir about her father, a man who had a secret life as a spy, it really became a book about her. The reader for this audio was poor. She over emoted and was not able to do voices well. Her impersonation of every male character was the same and not believable as a male voice. The dialogue was often trite and it felt as if the author was sometimes a spoiled child trying too hard to wax poetic and the reader was trying to hard to express herself. Lucinda Fra This book was disappointing. Touted as a memoir about her father, a man who had a secret life as a spy, it really became a book about her. The reader for this audio was poor. She over emoted and was not able to do voices well. Her impersonation of every male character was the same and not believable as a male voice. The dialogue was often trite and it felt as if the author was sometimes a spoiled child trying too hard to wax poetic and the reader was trying to hard to express herself. Lucinda Franks is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist married to Robert Morgenthau, a man 30 years her senior. She is the daughter of Thomas Franks. Her mother was often a victim of irrational moods; she was probably bi-polar, but at that time, she was undiagnosed. Cindy’s life was not an easy one. Having a disturbed mother and a father who was frequently absent and who became abusive when drunk, contributed to the nightmarish quality of her formative years. She had to be the adult in the family and was largely responsible for their welfare, financially and emotionally. When the book begins, she finds her father living in a state of chaos. His home is messy, old food is stored in the fridge, his clothes are unclean. Unwilling to accept his decline, his loss of memory, Cindy turns a blind eye to most of these issues until it is almost too late. Franks was a man who abused alcohol, was probably an alcoholic, and he disrespected his marriage vows and his wife. He kept a mistress for most of Cindy’s life, and also had a secret life when he was a soldier during the Second World War. When Cindy discovers he had another hidden aspect of his life, working for the government in clandestine ways, going on secret missions, she is obsessed and determined to find out all about it. Although her father insists he was sworn to secrecy, she presses him, consistently, and she eventually finds answers to some of her questions before he descends into a state of total dementia and forgets it all. His memories of the things he has done and the brutality he has witnessed on the part of the Japanese and the Germans, has haunted him his whole life and changed the happy and loving man he once was, into a morose and serious adult who showed little affection to his family and seemed remote most of the time. Thomas Franks was absent for long periods of time, during his marriage, working on secret government missions his family knew nothing about. Although he was distant and detached for much of Cindy’s life, as his life ended, she overcame all that she disliked about him, even accepted his long term mistress Pat, and she made peace with her father as she discovered the real mother and father she never knew, through their conversations and the old correspondence from his war years, that she discovered in his apartment.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mia Tryst

    The book begins with the all-but-destroyed figure of the father, who is lonely, living in abject conditions, broken down and apparently given up on life. The daughter loves her father, but he has become a burden. There is resentment in having to care for an elder person who seemingly gave up on his family years ago. Slowly, we discover an incredible man who, aside from being a war hero, was a dedicated father, a patriot...a man, who at some point pushed away his family because he felt rejected a The book begins with the all-but-destroyed figure of the father, who is lonely, living in abject conditions, broken down and apparently given up on life. The daughter loves her father, but he has become a burden. There is resentment in having to care for an elder person who seemingly gave up on his family years ago. Slowly, we discover an incredible man who, aside from being a war hero, was a dedicated father, a patriot...a man, who at some point pushed away his family because he felt rejected and withdrew into a tormented existence. The daughter brings him back piece by piece through cajoling, threatening, humoring; with kindness, obsession, forgiveness and above all, love. The daughter, NEVER gave up on her father; she is willing to reveal herself (her vulnerabilities, her misperceptions, and her relentless pursuit of the facts through years of research) to understand the father she thought she had lost; and in doing so, she puts aside all pretense to reveal her own fallibilities, to shed light and compassion for the father characterization. What a tremendous gift to be willing to bare one's soul in order to save another. I found myself consistently intrigued by this in depth exploration of a tenuous relationship. I thought this book dared to go where most books prefer to skim the surface. And no, this is not an espionage, thrill-seeking whodunit ala John le Carré; it's an honest, gut-level response written in the form of a memoir that seeks to understand one's place in the face of harrowing events - it's a human story that we can all relate to because it involves humanity. I cried for the father because you can feel his loss, his silent pain and how he held on but was held together with the love of his daughters, his mistress and his grandchildren. In the end, I was so touched by this alluring, tender treatment of a man who deserved to be honored and remembered as the voice of all the lost veterans who came back from the war - scarred, traumatized and broken. Lucinda Franks honored them by writing this book. She fulfilled the writer's role to get to the truth, and at the same time, freed the man who deserved nothing less than having his story told. If you get nothing out of this book, then you've read it for all the wrong reasons.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cameron

    On the face of it, this is a fairly straightforward story of a daughter discovering the details of her father's wartime experiences as he enters the last years of his life. But there is a very complex interplay here of a psychologically traumatized soldier and his struggle to raise a family, of a daughter caught between a distant, distressed father and a chronically grieving mother, and finally, of a woman caring for her dying father. What makes this truly fascinating is that Lucinda Franks is a On the face of it, this is a fairly straightforward story of a daughter discovering the details of her father's wartime experiences as he enters the last years of his life. But there is a very complex interplay here of a psychologically traumatized soldier and his struggle to raise a family, of a daughter caught between a distant, distressed father and a chronically grieving mother, and finally, of a woman caring for her dying father. What makes this truly fascinating is that Lucinda Franks is a Pulitzer-prize-winning investigative journalist who uses her connections and her skills to uncover one of the most top-secret spy operations of WWII--so secret that its participants rarely committed anything to paper so as to avoid information leaks. In the process, she finds out what her father did that left him emotionally damaged for the rest of his life, and pieces together how this influenced his behavior at home. The climax of the book is the discovery of a packet of wartime letters, written before her father had seen the worst of the war, and the realization that he had returned home deeply affected. A remarkable piece of detective work, conducted under emotionally stressful circumstances, this story is an example of how a man's invisible war injuries can ravage other family members in profound ways. Franks writes in an admirably clear and candid style and displays a comprehensive knowledge of WWII. It made me think about my own father's experiences as a counterintelligence officer during the war, and how they must have affected him.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    In this moving and compelling memoir about parent and child, father and daughter, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lucinda Franks discovers that the remote, nearly impassive man she grew up with had in fact been a daring spy behind enemy lines in World War II. Sworn to secrecy, he began revealing details of his wartime activities only in the last years of his life as he became afflicted with Alzheimer's. His exploits revealed a man of remarkable bravado -- posing as a Nazi guard, slipping behind en In this moving and compelling memoir about parent and child, father and daughter, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lucinda Franks discovers that the remote, nearly impassive man she grew up with had in fact been a daring spy behind enemy lines in World War II. Sworn to secrecy, he began revealing details of his wartime activities only in the last years of his life as he became afflicted with Alzheimer's. His exploits revealed a man of remarkable bravado -- posing as a Nazi guard, slipping behind enemy lines to blow up ammunition dumps, and being flown to one of the first concentration camps liberated by the Allies to report on the atrocities found there.My Father's Secret War is an intimate account of Franks coming to know her own father after years of estrangement. Looking back at letters he had written her mother in the early days of WWII, Franks glimpses a loving man full of warmth. But after the grimmest assignments of the war his tone shifts, settling into an all-too-familiar distance. Franks learns about him -- beyond the alcoholism and adultery -- and comes to know the man he once was. Her story is haunting, and beautifully told, even as the tragedy becomes clear: Franks finally comes to know her father, but only as he is slipping further into his illness. Lucinda Franks understands her father as the disease claims him. My Father's Secret War is a triumph of love over secrets, and a tribute to the power of the connection of family.

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