Alan Winter Author

Connect With Alan

facebook goodreads goodreads

pre order
Kirkus Review:
Publish Date: December 23, 2019


Kirkus Review:
Best Book Selection 2013



Wolf Reviews

Kirkus Review | Reviewed: 12/23/2019

"A deeply researched novel about HItler's rise to power, co-authored by Stern, a former federal judge, and Wintger, a novelist (Island Bluffs, 2015 etc.). In a German army hospital in 1918, two soldiers meet. One, the narrator, has lost all memory of his past, even his identity, so a doctor assigns him the nme of a dead soldier, Friedrich Richard. Richard shows kindness to the man suffering from hysterical blindness in the bed next to him. The blind man calls himself Wolf, but his real name is Adolf Hitler. They form a strong friendship, and Richard later follows Hitler into the Nazi Party. Richard is a not-entirely-sympathetic narrator who stands 6-foot-7 and "doesn't shy away from a fight," willingly bashing heads to defend his friend. But he shies away from talking about his past, especially when he learns he's inadvertently been given the name of "a dead Jew." Meanwhile, Hitler "demanded total loyalty, but he also gave it...even to friends who disappointed him." "Friedrich," he says, "you must stay close to me. Always. You are the only one I really trust." Even knowing that Richard defended a bearded Jew against three thugs, Hitler promotes him to SS Obergruppenführer. "Our Friedrich is well known for his tender heart," he says. The fictional narrator proves a great tool to show Hitler up close, based on the authors' research. For example, historians often portray Hitler as pathologically afraid of women. Richard tells a woman that "Hitler's romance is with Germany," not with fräuleins, but Hitler is attracted to young women and girls, including his niece Geli, who commits suicide after ol' Uncle Adolf leaves her for another woman. In 1934, Richard visits a dying man in Dachau but is long since hopelessly ensnared in the Nazi juggernaut. As the novel ends, the horrors are only beginning. An engrossing look at a monster. "

Alex DeMille, co-author with Nelson DeMille THE DESERTER

"Wolf offers a front row seat to the Nazi Party's early years, expertly using the fictional protagonist Friedrich Richard to take the reader on a fifteen-year journey from the end of the First World War to Adolph Hitler's seizure of absolute power in Germany. The reader experiences the gradual death of democracy in Weimar Germany like a slow motion train wreck, equally fascinated and horrified. We all know how Hitler's Thousand Year Reich ended, but Wolf shows us how the nightmare began. A compelling, thoroughly researched, and important work.

Wolf is an impressive achievement. Exhaustively researched and richly detailed, it draws on new historical research to paint a fascinating portrait of Adolph Hitler that is more human and recognizable than most depictions - and thus even more chilling and sobering."

Fortune Magazine | Published: 03/29/2020 | By: Fortune Editors

The best books to read while social distancing, according to Fortune staff

A great stay-at-home choice is Wolf, which traces the rise to power of Adolf Hitler through an invented character. Friedrich Richard befriends the nearly blinded Hitler in a military hospital during World War II and believes in his plan to restore dignity and economy following the humiliations imposed by the victors. Richard works as Hitler’s “fixer,” quashing looming scandals from his friend’s romances with teenage mistresses and using force to sideline political opponents. Hitler’s bloody purge, including the murder of many old allies, upon rising to the presidency in 1934 finally turns Richard into an enemy.

Though Richard is the authors’ conceit for getting a close-up view of Hitler, the book is based on extensive research. It ranks with the best historical fiction, in the tradition of such Herman Wouk works as War and Remembrance. Stern boasts a fabled history of leading successful investigations, as the New York assistant DA who handled the Malcolm X murder, and as the crusading U.S. attorney for New Jersey who prosecuted leading politicians across the state. For melding entertainment with compelling history, Wolf can’t be beat. --Shawn Tully, senior editor-at-large

Fortune Magazine Book review: ‘Wolf’ is the pre–World War II historical thriller you didn’t know you needed right now - By Shawn Tully

A novel about Adolf Hitler’s rise to power doesn’t sound like the ideal diversion we’re all craving to escape cabin fever.

But Wolf (Skyhorse) is that rare blend that puts the reader in the limos and back rooms with the gang of diabolical villains who conned the German masses and changed the arc of history, while providing a detailed, factually meticulous account of the 15 years of tumult leading to the birth of the Third Reich.

Wolf could be considered a “forensic thriller.” While working through its 549 pages, this Fortune writer cooped up in Manhattan’s Chelsea found himself both learning lots of new things about the stricken German spirit and economy of 1920s and early 1930s, and itching to discover where the next twist would take a cast of characters brought fully to life, including brave and lovable madams, dance hall impresarios, police chiefs, and actresses who refused to compromise their humanity—and suffered dearly for it. (Ed. note: Light spoilers ahead.)

As its historical notes reveal, Wolf is steeped in original research. Its co-author (along with Alan A. Winter), Herbert Stern, put his fabled investigative skills to work on the project. Stern is the former prosecutor who handled the Malcolm X murder case, and famously jailed America’s most corrupt politicians as New Jersey’s U.S. Attorney in the late 1960s. The authors’ digging reveals a picture of Hitler that’s far different from the figure portrayed by historians, that of a cultural vulgarian who was incapable of genuine friendship, feared women, and recoiled from sex.

In Wolf, Hitler emerges as a bohemian libertine, a compulsive seducer––targeting mainly teenaged girls––who manipulated women, and craved their intimacy. Among his passions were a love for the music of Richard Wagner and philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. Hitler remained loyal to many old comrades, even those who crossed him. Most of all, Stern and Winter present a brilliant political schemer who constantly shifted his positions to appeal to Catholics, industrialists and other groups essential his rise to power. What we view is Wolf is a savage in sheep’s clothing who did everything necessary to win election after election, then exploited those victories to establish absolute power and destroy the democracy that made him unstoppable.

Only six of the sundry characters in the novel are fictional. The story is told in the first-person by the protagonist, a soldier who’s severely wounded in World War I, and loses his memory. He’s sent to a psychiatric military hospital called Pasewalk near the Polish border. There, a sympathetic doctor seeks to protect the amnesiac from being sent back to the front. So he gives the soldier the name of a patient who recently committed suicide, had no family, and whose death, the doctor says, wasn’t reported to the authorities. Our no-name soldier Friedrich Richard, is a 6’7” bruiser still retains his old instincts, a knack for busting jaws, skill for playing classical piano, and steadfast loyalty to folks who help him that will include endangered Jewish friends, including the Berlin police chief whom he helps to avoid execution escape from Prague.

At Pasewalk, Richard befriends a patient, with whom he shares a psychiatrist. The patient suffers from hysterical blindness. He calls himself “Wolf,” the nickname given him by fellow soldiers, and as the authors show in their notes, Hitler used in writing love letter to his young paramours. Richard describes the titular Wolf as “thin and pasty-faced…by turns tolerant then needy, and yet warm when I least expected it.” Richard feeds the blinded soldier and guides him on walks through the hospital. Wolf starts regaining his vision. Then, upon hearing news of Germany’s surrender, he unleashes a torrent of rage that blinds him again. It is only when Wolf sees well enough to leave the hospital and rejoin his regiment that he tells Richard his real name: Adolf Hitler.

Richard eventually becomes Hitler’s bodyguard. At rallies, Wolf’s fiery speeches entrance young women who crave his attention. Hitler’s favorites are girls from 17 to 19, and he conducts many secret affairs. “He manufactured the public image of a celibate devoted only to the Fatherland. To promote that image, Wolf often cast a girlfriend aside for the slightest breach of confidence,” says Richard.

But just as Wolf’s political fortunes rose, a looming scandal threatened to destroy him. A woman appalled by Hitler’s affairs penned eight letters to a by-the-book judge who prepared to indict the DAP leader for having sex with underaged girls, including his niece Geli Raubal, who was named in the letter. By now, Richard is Hitler’s fixer––a kind of 1920s Ray Donovan. He sweet-talked one of Hitler’s teenaged lovers into writing a letter stating that she and Hitler shared only a close friendship. Soon, Hitler had three affairs going at once, including his first liaisons with Eva Braun, and a continuing fling with his niece Geli. When Geli learned that Wolf was seeing Eva, she committed suicide, sending Hitler into a near-suicidal depression that reflected his what the authors’ characterize as his genuine devotion to Geli. As usual, Richard comforted Hitler through his isolation and mourning.

Wolf bristles with suspense in the final section recounting the machinations that in less than two years elevates Hitler from leader of the number-two party in the Reichstag to absolute power. On August 19, 1934, 95% of Germans vote, and 90% cast their ballots in support of the measure that makes Adolf Hitler “the Fuhrer,” and dictator for life.

A sequel is being written now by Stern and Winter. Look for another great read that combines compelling history and the adventures of an action hero––think Charles Bronson in Death Wish–– lusting for revenge.

New Jersey Monthly | Published: 02/2020 | By: Royal Thomas II

Click on image to zoom then, scroll or mouse wheel to resize. Single tap to close.

Goodreads Review | Published: 02/08/2020 | Reviewed by: Chelsie

So many, myself included, have wondered how Hitler rose to be the dictator he did. How he gained the power and votes that he did, how he was able to control thousands, if not millions and bring down humanity. How could one person be able to make other believe that someone with a certain ancestry was to be hated and murdered without a second thought. It is still something that is so unfathomable. One person.

The novel Wolf, was a very interesting look into Hitler's life starting right after WWI, and the decade that he took to rise to the power he did. Hitler, although often came across as an annoying man who would fail at any sort of government position, took his time to methodical figure out how to get to where he did. He was conniving, he was a liar, he was captivating, he overpromised, he was good at laying blame elsewhere, and most of all he was the greatest manipulator of all.

Wolf is written from the character viewpoint of, Friedrich Richard who met and befriend Wolf just after WWI, in a mental hospital. The two became quick friends as both were finding themselves. Friedrich had not memory of who he was and the doctors were amazed at his recover, and Wolf had temporary blindness and had relied on Wolf for assistance with everyday medial things until his sight came back. The two formed a bond that would never be broken.

Wolf learned quickly that Friedrich was one he needed to keep close, and one who would become extremely loyal as a friend, and reliable for anything he would need. Friedrich at first was glad to be of help to Wolf, and was often straight forward with him. He was the one who could talk him off a ledge, but one who Hitler respected enough to respect that Friedrich could often speak the truth of what he thought. Hitler knew Friedrich had quite a few good Jewish friends, and often was in the same belief as he was.

Throughout the decade, Friedrich is often privy to meetings and insight into Hitler's slow takeover of Germany. He is often warned by others, and comments are made that people either think Hitler is a joke and full of himself, or that he is bad news and nothing could come out of him gaining any sort of power. Friedrich often took it with a grain of salt, when he would confront Hitler, often he would reassure him, that so and so was behind the Jewish arrest or business closings and move on.

It is isn't until years and years later, as Friedrich is being pulled into more and more scandals and clean up's that he is realizing that maybe some of those warnings did hold water and that the person he believed Hitler to be really has been a sheep in Wolf clothing this whole time.

One incident makes him realize that he was blinded this whole time, and as he was often told- maybe he is the only one close enough who could dare bring down this monster. The only one who Hitler trust's enough to never see anything coming, if Friedrich dare attempt anything.

This novel was VERY good. It really had a lot of information, and background on the slow rise to power that Hitler did accomplish. Even though it is a large novel, it was a fast read and flowed well for covering over a decade of events and people. It was also interesting to read about some of those who came into power under Hitler and how, as you often see the same names repeated the more you read WWII historical fiction.

Thank you to Andrea Stein with Jane Wesman Public Relations and Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tours for the opportunity to read and review Wolf! I HIGHLY recommend this novel for anyone interested in knowing more about how Hitler was able to gain such power over people.

Write Read Life | Published: 01/30/2020 | Reviewed by: Jessica Higgins

Well researched fictional account of Hitler's rise to power.

In 1918, a young man wakes up in a German hospital with no memory. Referred to as Patient X, he undergoes major plastic surgery for shrapnel wounds that he received to his face, head, and body. As his physical scars heal, his memory continues to elude him. Once he had healed physically, X was transferred to a mental ward in Pasewalk Hospital near the Poland border. He began to see a new doctor and while his memory recollection falters, X is given an opportunity to assume the name of a fallen soldier, Friedrich Richard. He also befriends a new patient sharing his room who is being treated for blindness from a gas attack in the trenches. He comes to call this friend Wolf. Upon their departure of the hospital he learns Wolf's true name, Adolf Hitler.

It was in Pasewalk Hospital that Hitler's plans were put into motion. Originally a quiet painter and appreciator of art history and architecture, Hitler tied his emotions to his love of Germany. In spite of the gas attack, Hitler's blindness was attributed the Fatherland's defeat in the Great War. His doctor came to realize this and told Hitler that he was destined to be the one to lead Germany into a new era of greatness. Within minutes Hitler's sight returned. Over the next fifteen years, Friedrich led an interesting life that remained entangled to Hitler. However, their views were not always in sync. Hitler keep Friedrich as his most trusted ally as the only person who knew the truth of what happened at Pasewalk. Friedrich also remained loyal to Hitler and often became the only voice of reason that the Fuhrer would entertain.

For someone who voraciously reads about World War II history and events that precede that war, I realized that I have not researched as much on the time frame from 1918 to 1933. I learned so much from this book. Even though it is a fictional account, the events and timelines all match up. And it wasn't just Hitler's history that was interesting, but about many of Germany's industries that have been merged together with names we know today but were separate players during this time frame. This book also introduced some US history that we're not rather proud of but is important to know about so that it doesn't occur again.

One of my favorite aspects to historical fiction accounts is when it makes me go research the credibility of the book. I would spend a couple of hours reading through this and then spend another couple of hours researching out what I had just read. It all matched up. Several of the historical characters were fun to find out more about to see what they went on to do during the war. I think that this is one of the greatest compliments that an author can have. Job well done.

As for the story itself, it flowed great and I enjoyed Friedrich as the narrator. I can't personally understand his willingness to drop everything at a moment's notice to help Hitler. I'm sure it had to do with Hitler being (literally) his oldest known friend due to the amnesia. But there were times that Friedrich had a really good thing going and he ended up throwing it away. Even so, it was fun to see the adventures he had from working on a cruise liner, to a film scorer, to overseeing security for nightclubs.

There is some occasional harsh language throughout the book as well as multiple references to sex, underage sex, and other elements that will make some readers uncomfortable. I recommend this book for mature readers who enjoy the historical time period. Based on the merits of the research, I'm giving this book 5 Stars!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Jewish Voice | Published: 12/04/2019 | Edited by:

Meticulously Researched Thriller Debunks the Myths Surrounding the Life of Adolf Hitler

Perhaps no man on earth is more controversial, more hated, or more studied than Adolf Hitler. Yet many questions remain about his personal life and how he gained power. Based on extensive research, the extraordinary novel WOLF, by Herbert J. Stern and Alan A. Winter (Skyhorse Publishing; February 11, 2020), lifts the curtain so that the reader can observe through the eyes of a fictional character, how a seemingly unremarkable corporal who was denied a promotion for lack of "leadership ability" became dictator of Germany. The result is a gripping page-turner, a masterful historical novel.

The story begins in the mental ward of Pasewalk Hospital as World War I ends. A gravely ill soldier, who has lost his memory and is given the name Friedrich Richard, encounters a fellow patient: Adolf Hitler. Suffering from hysterical blindness, Hitler, also known as Wolf, becomes dependent on Friedrich for help with the simplest, day-to-day tasks. By the time Hitler's sight returns, the two have forged an unbreakable bond.

Upon release from the hospital, Friedrich heads to Berlin to work as a nightclub bouncer, while Wolf moves to Munich where he focuses on turning a fledgling political club into what will soon become the Nazi party. After accidently killing a man, Friedrich flees to Munich and reunites with his close friend.

Persuaded by Hitler's convictions about how to rebuild Germany in the wake of its defeat, Friedrich joins the Nazi's inner circle. Hitler, who in real life often played one advisor against the other - and was not one to rely on any of them - trusts the fictional Friedrich so much so, that he calls upon him to help resolve both personal and national crises that are historically accurate. Throughout the sixteen years covered in WOLF, Friedrich interacts with dozens of people who largely lived the lives the authors depict - from Hermann Göring and Joseph Goebbels to Berlin brothel-owner Kitty Schmidt and film star Lilian Harvey.

While history has painted Hitler as a man unable to forge lasting relationships, the authors' research has uncovered that, in fact, he built many lifelong friendships. Hitler was attractive to women, and had multiple affairs with young women as well as with the wealthy society matrons who backed the party. These relationships, which are portrayed in WOLF, "have been documented in numerous interviews over the course of seventy years, yet they have rarely, if ever, been reported by historians," Stern and Winter explain.

During the course of the novel, Friedrich struggles to reconcile his loyalty to Hitler with his own rejection of the party's anti-Semitism. He never wavers in his friendships with Jews, such as nightclub owner Max Klinghofer and police chief Bernhard Weiss. It is Friedrich who saves Weiss, the highest-ranking Jew in the German police, when Goebbels orders him arrested. After this incident, Friedrich promises Weiss to remain by Hitler's side in the hope that he can help lessen the severity of increasingly harsher laws meant to drive Jews from Germany.

WOLF is an historical novel that will satisfy history buffs and fiction fans alike. For those who want more, the authors' meticulous research can be accessed at In combination, the novel and the notes deftly answer the question: how did a nondescript man become the world's greatest monster? This is truly a lesson that no one can afford to ignore.

Stephen H. Foreman, author TOEHOLD, SEARCHING FOR GIDEON, JOURNEY and screenwriter for "The Jazz Singer" starring Neil Diamond

"Adolph Hitler anointed himself with the name, Wolf, then plotted and connived with remorseless determination to become Der Fuhrer, Dictator, Savior of the Fatherland. As in ancient Greek drama, we know the ending to the story. The riddle is how we get there. It begins with an ingenious premise that unfolds in a defeated and humiliated Germany following World War 1, and advances towards its goal like a Panzer division on the attack. A brooding cloud of inevitability hovers overhead, feelings of dread at the horror we know is coming yet we are unable to get out of its way. It culminates in an escalating climax as Wolf consolidates his power, kin to the baptism of fire that concludes The Godfather. A Hitler we did not know existed emerges page by page, all his bits and pieces, certain of his role as Savior of Germany, evil, driven, shrewd, an unrepentant, serial seducer of teen-age girls, surrounded by toadies as ruthless as himself but not nearly so smart - his rise and words an unnerving parallel as we witness the continued erosion of democracy today in our own sweet land. Put this book on the shelf with Ludlum, Michener, and Clavell. WOLF deserves to be in their company."

ML | Reviewed: 03/19/2020 | Format: Hardcover | 5.0 out of 5 stars

I have just finished reading “Wolf”, a book by Herbert Stern and Alan Winter, and just can’t stop thinking about it. What a story! What a great job and service the authors did in telling it. Their use of the fictional character, Friedrich, in telling Hitler’s rise to power is ingenious, as we see history through Friedrich’s eyes.

The narrative flows so well as it explains and connects historical events. It shows the strategies that Hitler used to accomplish his national goals; his ability to overcome setbacks; his keen understanding of human emotions and frailties, and how he knew how to manipulate these. Bringing this history to life in this vivid story reminds us that we must be en garde in preventing a repeat in the future.

Friedrich is a fascinating character, and his life’s story is a story in and of itself. His observations, his conflicts, his struggles, his passionate love affairs, his adventures, and his evolution are engaging and instructive; and how the authors merge these with historical realities is exemplary. The easy flow of writing weaves Friedrich’s story and Wolf’s narrative so perfectly together that Stern’s and Winter’s fresh ideas of this history are clear, concise and easily interpreted. It showed great pacing as the story revealed itself. The authors’ historical research has valid arguments refuting many of the rationalizations of currently accepted explanations of Hitler’s behavior.

Without reservation, I highly recommend reading “Wolf”.

Books6259 | Published: 03/04/2020 | By: Martie

The Director of Publicity for “Wolf: A Novel” contacted me to ask if I would be interested in an Advance Review Copy (ARC) of this historical fiction. I was about to say thanks but no thanks (already have too many on my TBR list) until I learned who the authors were—more to come on them later. I am so glad that I accepted the book and grateful that it was offered to me. Wolf is a meticulously researched historical novel about a man who isn’t yet the monster that he will become later in life, a man who is the embodiment of evil known as Adolf Hitler. I was amazed at how much I learned about Hitler in this book. Did you know that Wolf was his nickname? Did you know that in 1918 he was in a soldiers’ mental health hospital for hysterical blindness? Or that as a corporal Hitler was denied a promotion for lack of leadership ability? And most surprisingly, this most hated man was also known s to be a ladies’ man? I kid you not. Throughout his career, he paid off women to squash the potential sex scandals.

“Wolf” is the story of Hitler’s life immediately following WWI. If you ever wondered how the Nazis took control, you won’t after reading this book. They did not seize the country. It was a slow political movement made possible due to all the fighting amongst the country’s political parties striving to obtain power. I was so fascinated by this systematic explanation, like chess pieces on a board, that I actually typed it all up. Then remembered I was writing a book review, not a history paper. The authors make it look easy to weave together fact and fiction. In between reading about the rise of real-life monsters such as Hermann Göring, Heinrich Himmler, and Reinhard Heydrich, there is also the book’s fictional protagonist and narrator, Friedrich Richard. Through this character, you will find yourself in nightclubs with movie stars as well as prostitutes in brothels. Moreover, you get a front row seat to Germany’s then-bohemian life style. All sorts of unconventional shenanigans became acceptable. Think the 1970s movie “Cabaret.”

The book’s co-authors are Herbert J. Stern and Alan A. Winter. Stern is a former US attorney for the District of New Jersey. He also served as a judge of the US Court of Berlin. He authored the non-fiction book, “Judgment in Berlin.” Winter graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in History and has graduate degrees from New York University and Colombia University. He is the author of four novels. One was a “Kirkus Selected Best Book.” The newsletter “The Jewish Voice,” wrote that this novel “debunks the myths surrounding the life of Adolf Hitler.” One learns that he was capable of loving and maintaining friendships. I know, very hard to believe but it’s footnoted. Friedrich meets Hitler when they are in the same hospital in 1918. He is there because he is suffering from a war-related brain injury that left him with impaired memory. They become good friends. I thought it was ingenious how the authors created a protagonist with amnesia. As they say in the endnotes, “He is a clear window through which we observed people and events.”

Though the narrator’s eyes the plot simply hits me in my American gut. One of the many examples is when Hitler began his sterilization programs in an attempt to prevent persons deemed to possess undesirable heritable characteristics. Friedrich questions the reasoning behind needing an Aryan race. It is explained to him that they took the idea from America’s broadly accepted law that “One-Drop” of black blood in a white person is enough to consider that person to be black. “They enforce purity and superiority of Anglo-Saxon blood. Their goal is to protect the integrity of anything that threatens American heritage.” Because our protagonist’s memory is a blank slate, it suddenly seems understandable to him. Another heartbreaking example is when reading that in the early years of the Nazi party, the wealthy Jews donated to Hitler. They considered themselves loyal Germans who wanted the best for their country. Again, since Friedrich has no past knowledge, he naively agrees with them.

Historical fiction is my favorite genre, so I read many. A complaint I have is that it has become a trend to compare German Fascism to the current White House Administration. They are usually written so loud that it gives me a headache and bores me to tears. “Wolf” is over 500 pages long. The chapters are divided by months and years in chronological order. By the time you finish the novel, the comparison becomes inevitable, but you need to piece them together over the years. It is not spoon-fed to you. Now, I am not saying that President Trump is Hitler-like. I am saying that the book helps one understand the comparisons. Germany had a perfect political storm that allowed evil to flourish.

The book’s last paragraphs take place in1934. The German President Hindenburg dies. “The next morning a law was passed that combined the offices of president and chancellor.” Hitler fools the Germans into believing that this is out of respect for the deceased President. In reality, dictatorship is his goal. Then Hitler calls for his Generals to swear before God their unconditional obedience to Adolf Hitler, Fuhrer of the Reich. “These few words—and what they represented—sealed the fate of Germany.” Before Hitler, “the armed forces swore their allegiance to protect the country.” “Wolf” only has six fictional characters, including the protagonist. The rest is pure history. Yet, the tale reads like a page-turning thriller. I do wish that the authors had explained in more detail why a dark haired Austrian man was so intent on creating a blond-haired, blue-eyed German nation (something about his troubled childhood); Still, I just gobbled this one up. This educational read is easy to follow. Although it is an adult historical fiction, young adults would learn much while getting lost in the tale’s drama. If “Wolf” ever shows up on a syllabus in a high school history class, I would be surprised if kids cut the class.

I received this Advance Review Copy (ARC) novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

The Book Dragon | Drakon T. Longwitten | Reviewed: 02/21/2020 | Format: Kindle Edition | 5.0 out of 5 stars

Welcome my Fellow Freakish Feasting Feydragons! Tonight's Gem is in this old, cracked leather bag, pay great attention to that ugly symbol on the pouch. It is reviled the world over by good Dragons everywhere. It is the contents we concern ourselves with this evening. Let us pour them out on this piece of blue velvet. See? Runes carved from diamonds. Germanic and Teutonic they appear to be, but on second look they have been altered to do someone's bidding, like propaganda. On second look, they aren't even diamonds, but some type of crystal. Everything seems very real at first, but then we realize it was all a fraud, used by a subtle beast to get his way, to murder, plunder, control. This is Gem Makers' Herbert J. Stern and Alan R. Winter's "Wolf", one of the best historical fiction novels I have read to date.

Imagine you wake up in a hospital, you are wounded and have no memory of who you are. You do not remember what you look like, your name, your family, what you did, what your tastes or beliefs were before the explosion that tore your memory from your brain the way your fellow soldiers had their limbs torn from their bodies. You work hard to bring it all back, but you cannot. Day after day, nothing comes to you. Plastic surgery has fixed your face. The doctors had no photo to go on and so they do their best by making you look like a famous movie actor, but they can do nothing for your brain.

You are one day asked to help a fellow soldier placed in the bed next to yours. He has been blinded. You think it is by a chemical weapon, but your doctor confides it is not a weapon, but rather hysteria at your country losing the war that has brought on this lack of sight. So, with nothing better to do, you begin to help. He eventually regains his sight, you do not regain your memory. He keeps you as a fast friend, closer than a brother, you appreciate this, but are at loose memory, no history, you cannot settle so easily. Then your new friend begins to spout ideas that bother you, but what can you do? You are not one for speaking out. You are too unnerved by your situation.

This is the predicament Friedrich Richard finds himself in. He only has the name because the a doctor gave it to him. It belonged to a dead soldier that no one will come looking for and his death was not reported (so you believe). His new friend calls him Friedrichshen (dear or close fried) a symbol of their closeness. He asks Friedrich to call him, not by his formal name, but rather 'Wolf' as his friends do. This is Friedrich's introduction to Adolf Hitler.

Stern and Winter introduce us to one of the most evil men in world history in this way. He is not the crazed dictator, shouting, railing, shaking his fist...rather he is a wounded soldier. They build him over a stretch of years so that we are given a seat at one of the ugliest plays on the Human Stage. This is how Adolf Hitler was made. This is how he evolved from a mediocre artist and decorated corporal to a dictator who took millions of lives and would have taken millions more had he been able.

Friedrich is one of the best characters I have ever read. I had sympathy for him at times, at others not at all. I wanted to shake him, shoot him, help him, hide him. The people he meets and the places he took me in this story were phenomenal. He hides a secret because part of his memory begins to return and it would seem to very insignificant. He sits down one afternoon and suddenly plays the piano and does it very well. His life is now in danger from this moment on.

I would love to see this book be read in every high school in America. Every college. I have a list of books I would love to see read to expose dictators for who and what they were, both the small and the large.. I refuse to use the word "great". We live in a time when too many adults say they do not know what the Holocaust was or they do not understand who the dictators of WWII were. This is one of those books. If you know someone who is one of these persons... would urge you to buy them this book. At 500 pages it is not a quick read, but it is captivating, at times breathtaking, but most of all, I could not put it down. I read it over the course of 10 days while fighting of the dreaded Beast Bronchopneumonia. The characters in this book lived, ran businesses, held government posts. This is not fiction from whole cloth. This is fiction from Truth. If you are a student of WWII you very well may learn things you did not know, I certainly did! If you love excellently researched historical fiction, this is it! It is very reasonably priced as well and is sold wherever good books are sold. Until tomorrow, I remain, your humble Book Dragon, Drakon T. Longwitten

Amy Wilhelm Senior Writer, Book Club Babble.

In their groundbreaking novel Wolf, Stern and Winter use the historical facts about Hitler as their warp and his friendship with the fictional Friedrich Richard as their weft. The horrifying and captivating picture they weave reveals the gradual evolution of Hitler from an insecure young man into an evil dictator. The authors deserve tremendous credit for being unafraid to tread a new path over the well-worn territory of Hitler's rise to near demonic power. Like any successful novel should be proud to do, Wolf will incite intense discussion in historical circles and book clubs alike. It is a poignant, persuasive, and ultimately terrifying story of how one man came to bend the path of history through oppression and genocide by taking one step at a time.

Book Chase Book Club | Published: 02/16/2020 | By: Sam Sattler

The possibility that a monster like Adolph Hitler could have ever been a ladies man never crossed my mind. Never. But that is exactly the way that Hitler is portrayed here in Wolf, the new fictional look at Adolph Hitler's rise to power by authors Herbert Stern and Alan Winter. And according to the novel's "Historical Notes" section, there is good reason to portray him that way because Hitler was not really the cold, emotional wreck of a man who was incapable of forming meaningful relationships with others that so many "esteemed" historians claim he was. Stern and Winter say that he, in fact, "forged life-long friendships with numerous people," people to whom he was "exceedingly loyal." This is particularly true in cases of the men who were with him from the very beginning of his rise to power - as it was true of the "stable of women" he manipulated for his own purposes throughout most of his adulthood.

Most of the characters in Wolf were real people, but the book's narrator, Friedrich Richard, is not one of these. Rather, Richard is a fictional, amnesiac soldier who meets Adolph Hitler in the mental ward at Pasewalk Hospital in 1918. Richard is in the hospital for treatment to help him recover his identity when Hitler, having been diagnosed as a psychopath suffering from hysterical blindness, introduces himself to Richard as "Wolf." Both men are suffering from World War I combat-related issues. Richard is not particularly happy to have been asked by doctors to help look after Wolf, but after Wolf becomes completely dependent on Richard's assistance for getting around the hospital, the two begin the close friendship that will last them for at least the next sixteen years.

The sixteen years encompassed by Wolf, beginning in October 1918 and ending in August 1934, would see Adolph Hitler rise all the way from being a mere corporal whose mind has convinced his body that he is blind, to the moment that German voters decide to "anoint" him their country's dictator. Along the way the two men's friendship will be tested numerous times, but Richard convinces himself that by staying close to Hitler he will be able to curb the man's worst impulses. Hitler, on his part, remains dependent on Richard and is always more willing to listen to counsel from him than from anyone else in his organization. The supreme irony of their relationship is that Richard's good advice is instrumental in Hitler's rise to the top of German politics - and to all that will soon follow.

Bottom Line: Wolf helps explain what many readers will have only wondered about: How did the citizens of Germany not simply allow, but actually vote, a man like Adolph Hitler into the absolute power that would lead to him becoming perhaps the greatest monster the world has ever seen. While the novel can at times read a little too much like a history book, it is in its best moments a horrifying reminder of just how easily something like this could happen again.

Bookishloom | Published: 02/13/2020 | By: Ninu Nair

Unraveling Hitler in fiction

‘Wolf’ by Herbert J. Stern and Alan A. Winter is a historical fiction based on Adolf Hitler’s rise to becoming the ‘Fuhrer’ of Germany. What makes ‘Wolf’ interesting is the central narrative of Friedrich Richard, the fictionalized character who becomes the closest aid of Hitler. The amalgamation of fiction and non-fiction is amazingly achieved and the readers get a perfect picture of the time in which the Nazis rose to power.

‘Wolf’ is quite an exhaustive book but it is an interesting effort at unraveling history. I am sure we have all been intrigued by ‘Hitler’ and the stature he achieved for all the wrong reasons. ‘Wolf’ breaks down this image; Hitler as a person – committed to his friendships, relationships, staunch beliefs, and political rivalries in fiction.

The story of ‘Wolf’ begins with Friedrich Richard, the man without any memory, christened by his psychiatrist while being treated at the Pasewalk Military hospital. It is 1918, and Hitler is brought to Pasewalk as well. Hitler is diagnosed with hysterical blindness set off by Germany’s defeat in the World War. This is an interesting twist, as popularly it is believed that Hitler was blinded in a gas attack though he was treated by a psychiatrist.

For the lack of staff at Pasewalk, Friedrich is attached to Hitler to help him with the day-to-day chores. This is the ground for a strong relationship to follow. The authors do not delve into Hitler’s past, except maybe for a passing reference on the close bond he shared with his mother. As for Friedrich, he has lost his memory and has no documents with him to begin a trail on his family. The doctor at Pasewalk gave Friedrich the identity of a soldier who had committed suicide sometime back. At a later juncture, Friedrich finds out that his middle name suggests he is a Jew. It is a fact that has to remain behind the curtains with the rise of the Nazis and intolerance towards Jews.

The discharge from Pasewalk sets off Friedrich and Hitler on their individual journeys. This parallel narrative brings Friedrich’s relationship with Anna, the nurse at Pasewalk and him working as a bouncer for Max, a Jew. While back in Berlin, Hitler lays the foundation for the Nazi Party, a steady disassociation from the Communist ideals. He firmly believed the Bolshevik Communists destroyed the industry in Russia. This was an early affirmation of his strong belief in ‘Communists’ and ‘Jews’ as the harbinger of Germany’s downfall.

The failure at Munich Putsch put Hitler in prison, where he wrote ‘Mein Kempf’. Wolf, the self-adopted nickname by Adolf Hitler became popular and everyone in his circle addressed him that way. Well, his stature as the ‘Fuhrer’ was not built overnight; it rather took a long navigating route through numerous elections and much political turmoil. This is an interesting part where Hindenburg, Goebbels and Bernhard Weiss come into the picture.

Friedrich’s name has parts of Friedrich Nietzsche and Richard Wagner and has also acquired the attributes of playing piano and composing music. As Lilian Harvey (the actress) and Friedrich are drawn in a relationship, we get a glimpse of the movie industry in Germany and also, America. The Jews were predominantly producing movies in both countries. The section brings out the discriminatory practices against the Jews and ‘Negroes’ practiced in America.

“In America white people had subtle and not-so-subtle ways of keeping their Untermenschen-“impure sub-humans” – in place. Newspapers ran ads for employment under the heading “white.” Housing was subtly, and in some places not so subtly, separated into white and black communities.”

Half-way through the book, you feel completely submerged in Friedrich’s story. It is intriguing how Friedrich balances his friendship with Max, who has turned into a father figure while he is also the close confidant to Hitler. At times, Friedrich directly confronts Wolf on his hatred for the Jews. For Friedrich, Jews were friends and acquaintances. It wasn’t just the anti-Semitic views, there was also the eccentric sterilization campaign limiting the birth of the unproductive persons who could be a drain on the country’s resources. The authors provide a contrasting theory in Friedrich who believed in protecting and nurturing the weak, ‘because of the weak may come the next Mozart or Einstein.’ What if they never had the chance to be born?

The book also tries to bring to light the theories surrounding Hitler’s plagiarism, especially with the ‘Think It’ poem, apparently written by him for his mother. And, ofcourse, breaking the perception of Hitler being married to the country. Hitler in ‘Wolf’ likes to socialize; women find him attractive and he enjoys their company.

While incorporating the historical landmarks, ‘Wolf’ charts the Nazi rise from a seedling party of seven men in a tavern in the early days of 1919 to the second-largest party in the Reichstag in 1930. The Hitler Youth Program numbering thousands of boys and girls is given thrust in the storyline.

“Ours was a quiet revolution. We followed the provisions of the Constitution, stood for election after election, and became the dominant party in a democracy. We made backroom deals as was done in any democracy…Unlike the American and French Revolutions, we accomplished our revolution in 1933 without firing a shot at the government.”

It is intriguing to know that in the early 1920s, many people thought that Hitler’s extreme anti-Semitic comments were more rhetoric than substance. But, the reality dawns, at first with the imprisonment of the Communists. The book gives intricate details, for instance about an abandoned munitions factory located sixteen kilometers northeast of Munich that Hitler modeled after the concentration camps built by the British to contain the Boers in South Africa.

When the book ended, I wanted it to continue and take me further in history. Probably that will be another book with Hitler during the Second World War and Friedrich against him.

The Quirky Lady Bookworm | Published: 02/10/2020 | By: Clarissa

I first heard about this book when Amy, our tour organizer mentioned it was up for review. As I've still been somewhat of a slump, I was looking for something that would really engage my mind and keep me reading. A unique sounding novel, Wolf sounded promising. Well. I was not anticipating this. This is truly a stunning piece of literature. It's riviting, fascinating and it draws you in. If you're like me, you may try to see a human side to 'Wolf.'

I know that sounds insane, so allow me a moment to explain, you always see Hitler as how he was as a dictator, at his full amount of power. But my mind always wonders, what led him to where he was? What was he like? Did something happen to get him there?

In Wolf, we see him and it is equal parts terrifying and interesting because as a reader, we know what he becomes. We know what lay ahead and it literally feels like a roller coaster that is heading off the rails - you're not getting off. You're far too involved and invested. It's a truly astonishing. The research gone into this work is to be praised. I don't think there's anything about this that they didn't research. I am always a sucker for good research. It felt so real, so visceral.

I learned so much and I also learned, there is no sense in trying to humanize him. I absolutely enjoyed this book and its unique view. It certainly opened up my eyes.

Diary Of A Stay At Home Mom | Published: 02/07/2020 | By: Sandra

One word......WOW!!!

If I was asked to describe this book in one word, that would be it.

I love, and mean love history. To learn about where we came from, how we evolved, and to learn about some of the most fascinating time periods in our lifetime, is something I truly enjoy.

There are eras I love more than others, like anything Tudor and WWI and II, and there are events that have forever marked me, things I can never wrap my brain around or being to comprehend. Adolf Hitler and the atrocities and horrors he committed against the Jewish people, is one of those that send shivers down my spine.

When I first received Wolf in the mail, I set it aside aside and my kids actually saw the book, looked at the cover and both remarked "Wow mom, are you reading a book about Hitler? That's weird, we know how you feel about what he did."

They weren't wrong, and perhaps that is the reason I decided to review this book to begin with. Though in no shape, way or form do I condone what he did, I have always been interested and fascinated by everything surrounding the person he was and what could have possibly led him to become the evil man he became.

In Wolf we are allowed an inside perspective into his mind, and maybe just a little insight into who he was deep down, behind that well recognized mustache and persona.

The story begins with a young soldier waking up in a mental hospital in Germany. He has no idea who he is, what his name is, where he came from or how he ended up in the hospital. The doctors and nurses have no real information for him either. From the very beginning, he bonds with his nurse Anna, a sweet woman who lost her husband to the war.

The young man is covered in bandages, his face having been reconstructed. Not even the doctors know what he looked like as there was no identification on him when he was brought into the hospital.

From that moment, he learns that he has no clue what he looked like prior to that day. During one of his sessions with the hospital psychiatrist, he is given the name of Friedrich Richard. A name that belonged to a soldier who has since passed. It i all done with the idea that in time, when his amnesia disappears, he can go back to his old life, his true identity and pick up where he left off.

While still recovering in the hospital, a new patient comes in. Someone he is not very interested in being friendly with at first, but after a bit of a push by Anna and other hospital staff to help the blind soldier in the bed next to him, he quickly forms a friendship.

The patient goes by the name Wolf.

Not until Friedrich is out of the hospital and in Berlin, trying to restart a life, does he come to find out who Wolf really is. His real name? Adolf Hitler.

The two men form a huge bond and for the next 15 years, Friedrich comes to know the man who would become infamous for the genocide of millions of Jews.

Watching Friedrich struggle with right and wrong, on one hand wanting to do his friend's bidding, and being almost like his right hand man, to realizing that Jews are not the enemy, keeping friendships with Jewish people and even finding out that the name he was given of Friedrich Richard, belonged to a Jewish soldier fighting for Germany.

I could go on and on and on, but I don't want to give away anything from this book. It is so well written and researched, and truly gives you a look into the inside mind of one of history's most evil, dangerous man.

If you are a history fan, you will no doubt love Wolf.

facebook goodreads goodreads

pre order
Kirkus Review:
Publish Date: December 23, 2019

pre order

Kirkus Review:
Best Book Selection 2013