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Written by Timothy Sexton
Howard Campbell, Jr.
A self-described 48 year old “citizen of nowhere” who actually born in America, but moved with his family to Berlin when he was still a kid. By age 26, he has found success writing and producing his own stage dramas which star his Teutonic wife, Helga. The year is 1938 and Howard is recruited to become a secret agent for American under the cover of being a radio personality spewing Nazi propaganda. On not one, but two different occasions his recruiter is called upon to save him from accusations of being a war criminal and finally, giving in to the despondency of his role in the Nazi rise to power, he turns himself over to the Israeli authorities following the war. Again, his handler saves him, but the guilt of freedom only drives him to ruthless extremes.
Howard’s wife also happens to be the daughter of the Chief of Police of Berlin, Germany. In one of the great examples of the novel’s heavy sense of irony, Campbell actually broadcasts news of her death during the war, but because of his ignorance of the secret code remained unaware of the contents of his transmission.
Resi is Helga’s baby sister and after not seeing her for fifteen years, she poses as her sister in a plot to kidnap Howard by the Soviets. Complications ensue when Resi instead falls in love with her brother-in-law and winds up being detained by the Americans. Her love for Howard drives her to ruthless extremes.
Major Frank Wirtanen
Wirtanen is the man that recruits Howard into his life of espionage. Although he saves Howard’s life, he is forbidden from revealing Howard’s role as a spy until he falls into the hands of Israel as a war criminal. In the revelation, Wirtanan also divulges he has a dual identity: he is really Colonel Harold Sparrow.
Lt. Bernard O'Hare
Lt. O’Hare is a member of the American Third Army and frothing right-winger who views his every action as the ultimate in patriotism. Naturally, his view of the Nazi propagandist Howard situates the young ex-pat writer as the ultimate enemy of Americanism. He is responsible for the capture that requires the intervention of Wirtanen in order to get Howard freed. Fifteen years later, he tries to spring his trap to ensnare him again, but it is O’Hare that gets ensnared.
AKA Iona Potapov: Soviet spy. As George Kraft, however, he is an older man who paints and lives next to George. As the Soviet spy, George assists Resi in the attempted abduction of Nazi propagandist Howard Campbell. Ultimately, George, too, is somewhat charmed by Howard and colludes with he and Resi to escape to Mexico. In another example of the novel’s sublime sense of irony, George and Howard become close friends despite technically being spies for enemy countries.
Lionel Jason David Jones
An utter Neo-Nazi white supremacist nut job who believes that Howard, in his role as Nazi propagandist, is the ultimate symbol of goodness and truth in the world. Irony again: Jones picks as his hero a person who believes absolutely none of the propaganda he espouses.
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