The Saboteur

Written by Andrew Gross
Review by Janice Ottersberg

Andrew Gross has written a thrilling spy adventure story based on the true events of the most daring sabotage mission of WWII carried out by the Allies. The Norsk Hydro plant in German-occupied Norway, apparently impenetrable, was being used by Germany to produce D2O, known as heavy water, a critical component used in making nuclear weapons. Not only was it surrounded by high security, but it was built in a narrow gorge on a rock ledge with 3,000 feet of near-vertical mountain above it and a steep drop to the river far below. The narrow space between the plant and the opposite mountain face prevented direct attack by any bombers. Three missions and one Allied bombing took place in attempts to destroy the plant and eliminate the heavy water already produced.

A few brave men are called upon to carry out this mission so critical to turning the war in favor of the Allies and saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Kurt Nordstrum is one of these men, native to the Norwegian vidda (plateau) and the Rjukan area, and playing a significant role in two of the missions. But the story is really about all the men involved and their mission. This special group of men undergoes rigorous training to increase the odds of surviving Norway’s harsh environment and navigating its brutal terrain to reach the plant. The courage and endurance of these men are unequaled as they push themselves beyond human limits.

This book reads like narrative non-fiction in the details of planning and execution, but it is never boring. With each critical turning point in the book, my heart raced while I became completely immersed in the tension and danger the men faced. They had everything to lose with one small slip-up. Only my life rudely interfering forced me to put the book down. This is a terrific book about an important WWII event.