A trusted source recommended Warburg in Rome to me. The author is James Carroll, who is Catholic. I mention that because I think it is important when reading this story. The setting is primarily the city of Rome just after the WWII Allies liberated that city in 1944. The story also moves to other parts of Italy and Serbia in short bursts.
David Warburg is the featured character. The Warburg family did and does exist. They are a very wealthy Jewish American family (based in New York City) of bankers/financiers (and more) who trace their origins to 16th Century Venice and 19th Century Germany. There was a real David Warburg but not the one in this story. This David was from “the Vermont Warburgs” as he points out more than once. As the story opens, David is working as a top aide to Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr.
David is sent to Rome to head up the War Refugee Board in Rome. Its assignment was to rescue Jewish and other refugees from war-torn Europe. In Rome, David meets Marguerite d’Erasmo who works for the International Red Cross. Her father was the Director General of the Italian branch known as Croce Rossa. She knows a lot about the locations of Jewish refugees in Italy. On the flight to Rome, David meets Monsignor Kevin Deane, an advisor to Archbishop Spellman of New York. Deane is on a fast track to becoming a Bishop in Spellman’s city of New York. Deane is there to work on the refugee problem while stationed in the Vatican. Colonel Peter Mates, David’s roommate in Rome, is another important character who to open doors for David. He is soon to be elevated to Brigadier General. There are numerous other people in the story, both Jewish and Catholic, European and non-European. Some are good people; others are not.
As WWII nears its successful conclusion, the focus of the story is the treatment of refugees in Europe. David and his allies and their enemies are centered on the displaced Jewish citizenry. The major national players are the United States, its European Allies, and the Roman Catholic Church centered in the Vatican. It is not a pretty picture.
There are romantic intervals as well as action scenes. The interactions of the various people is a wonder to behold. Not all are whom they profess to be. Although this a work of fiction, the author has done considerable research on the subject so the overall history is accurate.
I highly recommend this story. WWII buffs, Jews who may or may not have lost family in the Holocaust, or if you just want a great story, rejoice.
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–Jim Harris, retired book sales rep
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