The Bottom Line: A revenge thriller tailor-made for military history enthusiasts, My Nazi Nemesis breathes fresh life into the Nazi hunter pantheon.
Twelve years after the end of the second world war, former intelligence operative Jack Goodwin decides that his fifteen-year-old daughter, Eleanor, is old enough to learn the details of his military exploits. The first half of My Nazi Nemesis is therefore, in essence, Goodwin’s first-person narrative of his harrowing war story. Those stories – beginning with a near-death bailout over German territory – are entertaining enough, but the story picks up serious momentum when Goodwin reveals that Waffen SS Officer Alois Richter murdered Eleanor’s mother.
Five years later, in 1963, it’s clear just how transformative Goodwin’s stories were for Eleanor. Armed with a BA in criminal justice from Saint Louis University, Eleanor isn’t struck with Beatlemania like the rest of women on planet Earth (she prefers Shostakovich). She is hardened, living by the motto “it takes evil to conquer evil,” sympathetic to McCarthyism, and completely consumed with finding the man that murdered her mother.
Over the past 70 plus years, the Nazi hunter/revenge story has become almost a subgenre unto itself, spawning real-life heros in the Mossad and countless books and films, ranging from the fictional Boys from Brazil to Neal Bascob’s non-fiction novels, Nazi Hunters and Hunting Eichman. DiSilvio distinguishes himself in the genre by telling Goodwin’s story from a decidedly American and personal point of view.
Although the story devotes plenty of ink to the Nazi persecution and eradication of the Jews during the war, the primary motivation for DiSilvio’s father/daughter duo isn’t to settle a score for others, or balance the global scales of justice. Rather, their plight remains a very intimate one, focusing on a single tragic loss and an unquenched desire to avenge it. He also includes a great deal of references to military and political history, much of which is aimed at an audience that already has a great deal of interest in and knowledge of the subjects. For those reasons and others, My Nazi Nemesis is a welcome addition to the genre.