Historical Fiction War

The Traitor – V.S. Alexander

16 February 2020
The Traitor Book Cover The Traitor
V. S. Alexander
February 25, 2020

Drawing on the true story of the White Rose--the resistance movement of young Germans against the Nazi regime--The Traitor tells of one woman who offers her life in the ultimate battle against tyranny, during one of history's darkest hours. In the summer of 1942, as war rages across Europe, a series of anonymous leaflets appears around the University of Munich, speaking out against escalating Nazi atrocities. The leaflets are hidden in public places, or mailed to addresses selected at random from the phone book. Natalya Petrovich, a student, knows who is behind the leaflets--a secret group called the White Rose, led by siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl and their friends. As a volunteer nurse on the Russian front, Natalya witnessed the horrors of war first-hand. She willingly enters the White Rose's circle, where every hushed conversation, every small act of dissent could mean imprisonment or death at the hands of an infuriated Gestapo. Natalya risks everything alongside her friends, hoping the power of words will encourage others to resist. But even among those she trusts most, there is no guarantee of safety--and when danger strikes, she must take an extraordinary gamble in her own personal struggle to survive. Praise for V.S. Alexander's The Irishman's Daughter "Accompanied by an expertly rendered plot, bold and empathetic characters, and prose that jumps off the page, this tale will particularly satisfy fans of historicals and those looking for stories about the redeeming grace of faith and hard work." --Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW


The Traitor is a compelling weave of fiction and imaginatively structured fact. A story that relives the harrowing days in Germany under Nazi rule, where young men and women espouse bravery, loyalty and fortitude in their opposition to the Nazi ideology. In 1942 several students at the University of Munich, led by brother and sister, Hans and Sophie Scholl, founded a non-violent, intellectual resistance group to the Nazi regime, called The White Rose (die Weiße Rose). The group conducted a leaflet and graffiti campaign to illustrate how Nazi power was destroying freedom and social values, killing millions of innocent people, and conducting an unjust war at the behest of a megalomaniac and his party.

The White Rose Group risked their lives to challenge Hitler’s regime and the leaders were finally caught after a caretaker at the University of Munich reported them to the Gestapo. Siblings Sophie and Hans, along with their friend Christoph Probst, were executed by guillotine on 22 February 1943. Not only were the three friends inspirational and brave conducting their opposition campaign but as they each went to their deaths, they remained committed to their cause, loyal to their colleagues, and resolute to the end. Hans Scholl’s last words were “Let Freedom Live”, and Sophie stood upright and determined at her trial constantly challenging the partisan judge. They were tried and executed the same day. 

Hans and Sophie Scholl

The true story struck me deeply, how young men and women can assume the selfless dedication and bravery at a time in history where cruel lurking horror was commonplace. This story is truly inspirational.

“When you see the world in all its enchanting beauty, you’re sometimes reluctant to concede that the other side of the coin exists. The antithesis exists here, as it does everywhere, if only you open your eyes to it. But here the antithesis is accentuated by war to such an extent that a weak person sometimes can’t endure it.”

The fictional aspects of the story place a young Russian-German woman Natalya Irenaovich Petrovich as a member of the White Rose Group. Natalya and her friend Lisa Kolbe undertook various ventures throughout the story, as they stray dangerously close to the authorities and exposure. V.S. Alexander writes a fictional novel through the eyes of Natalya and creates a wonderfully absorbing story with an authentic voice for the real activities of the White Rose Group. The use of the fictional characters enables a plot and dialogue to flow without compromising the true characters and paying them the highest respect by leaving their voices within legitimate historical material. The characters in the novel illustrate the pervasive fear existing in German society at the time and how they struggled to maintain secrecy and caution, with everyone that they encountered. The atmosphere of suspicion and the anxiety of what has become normal life is extremely well depicted. The ongoing harrowing experiences suffered by Natalya are vivid, ruthless and tragic.

What V.S. Alexander has achieved is the blending of factual moments in history with such a compelling fictional narrative that creates an outstanding novel. It is fitting that this book is released in February. I would highly recommend this book and I’d like to thank Harper Collins, One More Chapter and NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley peter@thereadingdesk.com

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