Robert Harris – V2
After having been hit by a German V2 and her affair with a high rank staff member of the ministry almost exposed, Kay Caton-Walsh, officer in the WAAF, asks to be transferred to directly contribute to the fight against the new super weapon of the enemy. Her wish is granted and so she finds herself with dozen of women in Mechelen... After having been hit by a German V2 and her affair with a high rank staff member of the ministry almost exposed, Kay Caton-Walsh, officer in the WAAF, asks to be transferred to directly contribute to the fight against the new super weapon of the enemy. Her wish is granted and so she finds herself with dozen of women in Mechelen, Belgium, where they are trained to calculate the origin of the rockets. These are launched from the Netherlands under the surveillance of Dr Rudi Graf who once dreamt of sending rockets into space and was fascinated by his and his friend Wernher von Braun’s advances in science. But since the Nazis have taken over their skills and inventions, he not only feels increasingly uncomfortable but serious questions what he has done. Altogether, the V2 killed more than 4,000 people, wounded more than 10,000 in London and Antwerp and destroyed thousands of houses in the British capital. Robert Harris has again chosen a historical topic for his novel which outlines the human character in a complicated world. One might expect the Second World War and the Nazi regime to become finally a bit boring, Harris, however, just as in other books before, turns it into a suspenseful story with interesting characters entangled in the contradictions of their time. The author addresses several core questions while the novel is fast paced and gripping from the start. The German engineer who never intended his creations to be used to kill people but was fascinated by space travel and what by diligence and an inventive talent could be created. Seeing what has become of his dream, he has to make a lonely decision and to come to terms with his role in the war. On the other hand, Kay is full of patriotism and ready to risk a lot to participate in the fight against the evil, terrorising missile. Quite astonishingly, it is a group of women who do the complicated calculations when mathematics were considered the supreme discipline of men. Yet, their competences do not hinder their male colleague from looking down on them. She is also the one in contact with the local population who is torn between the fronts and after years of occupation not sure whom to trust anymore. Even though the whole plot is centred around the missile, it is the human aspects which render it interesting and thought provoking. Just as in his other novels, a brilliant combination of fact and fiction which is a terrific read and informative, too.
the Sunday Times bestselling World War II thriller
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'An immersive thriller set against a tense historical backdrop ... the joy is in the history as much as the story ... Once again Harris has placed the reader at the heart of a great historic event, using a small story to tell a great one.' FINANCIAL TIMES
The first rocket will take five minutes to hit London.
You have six minutes to stop the second.
Rudi Graf used to dream of sending a rocket to the moon. Instead, he has helped create the world's most sophisticated weapon: the V2 ballistic missile, capable of delivering a one-ton warhead at three times the speed of sound.
In a desperate gamble to avoid defeat in the winter of 1944, Hitler orders ten thousand to be built. Haunted and disillusioned, Graf - who understands the volatile, deadly machine better than anyone - is tasked with firing these lethal 'vengeance weapons' at London.
Kay Caton-Walsh is an officer in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, and a survivor of a V2 strike. As the rockets devastate London, she joins a unit of WAAFs on a mission to newly liberated Belgium. Armed with little more than a slide rule and a few equations, Kay and her colleagues will attempt to locate and destroy the launch sites.
But at this stage in the war it's hard to know who, if anyone, you can trust. As the death toll soars, Graf and Kay fight their grim, invisible war - until one final explosion of violence causes their destinies to collide.
'Harris finds the poetry in physics and the soul in engineering. He makes the V2s come to life as vividly as any of his human characters ... Harris has the great gift of readability; there is no living novelist whose books I am likelier to gobble up in one sitting.' JAKE KERRIDGE, TELEGRAPH
'I want to be the first to say it: Robert Harris scores a direct hit with V2. I was enthralled.' ANTHONY HOROWITZ
'Astonishingly precise ... As Graf and Kay plot and counterplot, questions rise and fall like rockets. V2 will keep you pinned on a compelling trajectory.' SUNDAY TIMES
'Harris captures the real nature of war. Gripping.' BEN MACINTYRE
'Harris is delivering a warning about toxic futility and the ferocious propaganda needed to fuel it. His timing is, unlike the workings of the rockets he writes about, impeccable.' EVENING STANDARD
'Robert Harris is at the peak of his storytelling power with V2; it takes you all the way back to the pleasure of reading Enigma.' PATRICK NEALE
'The king of the page-turning thriller.' THE i
'Second World War buffs will enjoy Robert Harris's V2.' INDEPENDENT
'V2's portrait of a battered and weary London is not without a certain 2020 resonance.' TOM HOLLAND
[Bestseller in the UK, Sunday Times, September 2020]