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Book Review- Gauntlet by Barbara Masin

Subtitle: "Five friends, 20,000 Enemy Troops, and the Secret That Could Have Changed the Cold War."  Barbara Masin is the grand daughter of Czech WWI and WWII hero General Josef Masin and the daughter of his son, Pepa Masin who along with his brother Radek and three friends escaped Czechoslovakia across East Germany into West Berlin in 1953. 

A combat hero fighting the Kaiser in WWI and then key Czech underground leader against the Nazis, Josef Masin's story is one of hardship, sacrifice, heroism and betrayal.  On the run from the Gestapo for most of Pepa and Radek's early lives, he managed to inculcate in his sons the spirit of resistance to tyranny and set an example for bravery and patriotism that made a deep impression on his young sons. 

After the allied victory over Nazi Germany, the Czechs found themselves subject to the unrelenting oppression of Stalin's Soviet Union.  Determined to follow in their father's giant partisan footsteps, Pepa and Radek formed their own resistance organization against the Czech Communist regime.  Convinced by the Voice of America that the US liberation was imminent, they made a desperate attempt to escape their "worker's paradise" in order to provide key intelligence for the American onslaught. 

The harrowing tale of their transit across East Germany is an incredible testament to the indominable spirit of those men.  Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this unique piece of European history that harkens back to a time that is all but lost on the Continent today.  Aside from the action packed and meticulously researched accounts of their cat and mouse game with East German and Soviet troops are many important lessons and reminders for Americans today.

First and foremost is an excruciatingly detailed exposition on the true meaning of fascism and totalitarianism not the boilerplate Bushitler leftist pap-the real deal.  And second is a caution for the current administration and for future ones.  The Czech people truly believed that their liberation by America was at hand although as we all know, nothing could be further from the truth.  It made me think about another nation under the thumb of tyranny that we are not prepared to liberate any time soon-Iran.  A lesson Iraqi Shiites learned the hard way in the early 90's. 

I congratulate Barbara on an exciting and historically illuminating book and I admire her for being a member of a family that offered so much to the altar of freedom.