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Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite
A Republic's Rise by Clinton Aldrich is a tale with a strong appeal to fans of historical novels, especially those with a setting evolving around WWII. Before WWII, the Reich Chamber of Culture orders Derek Schorr, an art graduate student at Berlin Academy of Arts, to locate and confiscate a painting desired by Hitler. It is the painting titled A Republic’s Rise, which is thought to be in Prague. Derek does find the painting and, unexpectedly, falls in love with the daughter of the owner of the gallery, who also happens to be Jewish. Derek finds himself in a dilemma, turning to lies and subterfuge. The tension escalates with the fall of Czechoslovakia and the maltreatment of Jewish communities who are under Nazi attack. Can Derek complete the mission or will he choose love and escape?
Clinton Aldrich weaves enough historical elements to provide the context within which the story takes place and keeps the focus on the characters, fleshing them out with skill and exploring a romance that evolves with the growing political tension. The author’s masterly storytelling enriches the reading experience in this darkly addictive story that launches with a strong and compelling premise. Derek is worried, disturbed by the thought that someone might have reported him to the Gestapo for appreciating degenerate art. But he quickly finds himself on an adventure he never bargained for, one that follows a twisty, dangerous path. The author writes skillfully about the German thirst for art, their hatred of the Jews, and the ensuing brutality that marked WWII. Romance, betrayal, and intrigue are strong elements that move this story forward and Clinton Aldrich’s detailed descriptions create a world that is vivid and captivating in a disturbing way. A Republic's Rise is a book readers will finish fast because they cannot stop reading, and the characters, as well as the world the author creates, will stay with them for a while.