**** 4 stars
The Dahlem Initiative is a lively spy thriller set in the last few weeks
of WWII. The novel revolves around the attempts of the Allies to obtain
advanced nuclear technology from a facility in Berlin. The reader learns
a great deal about the science of the powerful ultracentrifuge being
developed by the Nazis. The novel is peppered with small-scale battle
scenes as both the Allies and the Soviets try to take possession of the
centrifuge and the uranium, while the Germans try to thwart them. The
betrayals, firefights, and deaths that attend these efforts are dramatic
and chilling. The premise of the book is original and engaging.
Egerton's fictional characters interact with real historical figures,
most of whom were involved with the Manhattan Project. Truman, Beria,
and Stalin make cameo appearances as well. For the reader with an
historical bent, this is especially interesting and brings added
verisimilitude to the story.
There is some repetitiveness in the narrative, but nonetheless the book
moves along at good clip. Egerton's decision to ignore the larger war
and focus on the events in and around the Dahlem facility intensifies
the drama. The reader is always left wondering what will happen next.