“There are no great men…there are only great challenges, met by ordinary people in unusual circumstances.”

 

Admiral William Halsey,
Battle of Midway, WWII

"The war is over for St. Liseau, but the price has been almost too much to bear."

Humankind is capable of such magnificent achievements - and such terrible tragedies.

THE BOOK

The Road at St. Liseau

When Army Bombardier Capt. Robert Marsden crashes his B-17 in France during World War II, he doubts he’ll survive.

reviews

Foreword Reviews

by Julia Ann Charpentier

Heartbreaking and graphic, this romantic thriller brings the horrors of World War II vividly to life.

Set in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, this romantic spy thriller plumbs the depths of despair and scales the heights of joy in a riveting depiction of sacrifice and love. Thomas W. Becker’s The Road at St. Liseau presents a familiar scenario—a young nurse instills the will to live in a critically injured American army captain.

Robert Marsden crashes a B-17 into the countryside and lands in the arms of Lisa Jardin, a beautiful woman with the touch of a guardian angel. His undercover work as part of the French Resistance puts him in grave danger throughout this novel, and even after recovering from extensive injuries, Marsden risks his life for a higher good. Dedicated and courageous, this loyal hero inspires admiration. The heroine is the epitome of educated gentleness and nurturing kindness—a good, though somewhat trite, portrayal of a 1940s nursing student.

Researched down to the finer details and straightforwardly realistic, time and place are vivid, while descriptions come across with knowledge that could be obtained only from history books and memoirs. The book contains numerous black-and-white photographs and maps, presumably to enhance the text, but this superfluous addition seems more suited to a work of nonfiction. The use of these pictures—some unrelated to the specific scenes into which they are inserted—tends to distract from the overall quality of this excellent plot.

Heartbreaking and graphic, the atrocities of warfare make an ugly appearance, informing the twenty-first century of a brutal past that cannot be forgotten. Evil events that triggered one of the vilest worldwide conflicts in history manifest themselves in countless ways, and tragically, some of the worst happened off the battlefield.

In this horrific torture scene, Marsden is rescued from the clutches of his captors:

The Marine medic began pushing on Robert’s arms and chest until it was obvious the bones were broken throughout his whole body. Designs were made on his flesh by burning him with cigarettes; here and there all over his body were open knife slashes surrounded with dried blood. Robert had been hanging naked and unconscious, completely oblivious to his surroundings with scarcely a trace of life stirring in him.

Gritty accounts of rape and degradation make a prominent statement, allowing an insider’s look at the grim reality of enemy infiltration in a once peaceful nation. At the heart of Becker’s novel is a message of hope and resilience, as well as a lesson for future generations: abiding love overrides all.

Good Reads

by Sharah McConville

I won The Road at St. Liseau by Thomas W. Becker through Goodreads Giveaways. The book is set in France during World War II. This story has everything: romance, action, adventure and violence. I really enjoyed it!

World War 2 in Europe is best understood through the personality and political ideals of Adolph Hitler. He fought constantly during his life with his father as the two men came to despise each other. Living a bohemian kind of life in Vienna, he became a struggling young artist, but his work was twice rejected by the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts that considered him unfit as an artist in 1907-08.

He was wounded and was decorated during World War 1 in Europe. Returning home after the war, he developed many radical political ideas and as a highly popular public speaker and his close friends, attempted to seize control of the government. The attempt failed leading to his imprisonment in 1923. While in prison he wrote a book (Mein Kampf – “My Struggle”), an autobiography and manifesto. He publicly attacked the Treaty of Versailles and promoted German nationalism and antisemitism. He blamed the Jews for making Germany lose WW1 and denounced the Jews as part of a Jewish conspiracy.

Hitler used the American stock market crash of 1929 and the following Great Depression to gain support for his political party. Named Chancellor of the German Parliament in 1933, he rearmed the military, strengthened the economy, withdrew from the League of Nations, then began annexing European territory finally invading Austria and Czechoslovakia. In 1939 he attacked Poland, Luxembourg, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Denmark, and finally France in June 1940 which started World War 2. Having made treaties with Mussolini’s Italy and Japan (called the Axis Powers), he invaded the Soviet Union but was stopped. Only Great Britain stood alone against the Nazis. When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, America joined the war on the side of Great Britain.

Hitler set up concentration camps throughout Europe, eventually killing 11 million Jews and conquered populations by starvation, slave labor or outright extermination. Deaths took place in concentration and extermination camps, and through mass executions. Many victims of the Holocaust were gassed to death, others died of starvation or disease or while working as slave laborers.

THE AUTHOR

Thomas W. Becker

A teacher, author, and photojournalist who traveled throughout the world delivering presentations and gathering material for fourteen books and more than three hundred published articles. He lives in Spring City, Pennsylvania, where he continues to write and deliver public talks on technology.

Photos by Thomas Becker

A Strategic Air Command fully armed and nuclear-ready B-52 bomber prepares for airborne refueling at 15,000 feet.

PHOTOS BY THOMAS BECKER

Apollo 14 carrying astronauts to the Moon awaits an early morning lift-off at Cape Canaveral, Florida’s launch pad 39A.

PHOTOS BY THOMAS BECKER

Presidential Candidate Robert Kennedy greets a huge crowd of well-wishers in Detroit, Michigan, three weeks before his assassination in 1968.

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