Cover image for Nuremberg : the reckoning
Nuremberg : the reckoning
Buckley, William F., Jr., 1925-2008.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Harcourt, [2002]

Physical Description:
366 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


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Nuremberg's Palace of Justice, 1945:
the scene of a trial without precedent in history, a trial that continues to haunt the modern world. Leading the reader into the Palace is Sebastian, a young German-American whose fate is to be intimately involved with the lives and deaths of others: the father who disappeared mysteriously, the ancestors whose stories become vitally relevant, and some of the towering figures of twentieth-century legal history, including Justice Robert Jackson, Albert Speer, Hermann Goering, and the dark, untried shadow of Adolf Hitler. In a gripping account of warmakers who must face the consequences of their actions, Nuremberg: The Reckoning flows through Warsaw, Berlin, Lodz, Munich, Hamburg, and finally Nuremberg, as Sebastian, an interpreter-interrogator, comes to terms with his family legacy and his national identity. With his customary authority and audacity, William F. Buckley Jr. has taken a pivotal moment in history and shaped it into absorbing and original fiction. The result is a riveting novel of insight and deep understanding exploring the characters and issues that made history.

Author Notes

Editor and writer William F. Buckley, Jr. was born in New York City on November 24, 1925. While at Yale University, he studied political science, history and economics and graduated with honors. In 1955, he founded the weekly journal National Review where he was editor in chief. He began his syndicated newspaper column in 1962 and his weekly television discussion program, Firing Line was syndicated in 1966.

Buckley wrote "God and Man at Yale" (1951) which was an indictment of liberal education in the United States, "Up from Liberalism" (1959), "The Unmaking of a Mayor" (1966), which tells of his unsuccessful mayoral campaign as the Conservative Party candidate for New York City in 1965, and "Quotations from Chairman Bill" (1970).

Buckley also wrote best selling stories of international intrigue whose titles include "Saving the Queen" (1976), "Stained Glass" (1978), "Who's on First" (1980), "Marco Polo, If You Can" (1981), and "See You Later, Alligator" (1985). He died on February 27, 2008.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Buckley displays his unmatched talent for fictionalizing key historical moments in this masterful account of the infamous trials. At the center is Sebastian Reinhard, whom we first meet in 1939 when he is 13. His family is preparing to escort him across the Atlantic to attend high school and live with his grandmother in Arizona when his father, Alex, is instructed by the Gestapo to stay in Hamburg. A civil engineer educated at MIT, Alex wonders whether Hitler's henchmen know about his plan to stay in America. Although German-born, Alex is no Nazi sympathizer, but he worked with extreme discretion on his escape plan. His wife and son sail to America without him, and he is never seen again. Young Sebastian becomes a model American. When he is drafted into the army, he proves to be a hardworking soldier-in-training. All the while, though, Sebastian struggles with his role, a German-born man fighting against the Germans. His doubts are magnified when he is asked to work as a translator at the Nuremberg trials. Thus begins his quest to understand his place in history as his Fatherland goes on trial. Considering the complexities of the subject matter, Buckley manages to tell a fast-paced coming-of-age story set against the darkest of backdrops. Mary Frances Wilkens.

Library Journal Review

Within the flexible boundaries of a novel that has substance, style, and a firm grip on the plot, Buckley has fashioned a story of action against a real historical background the trials at Nuremberg. Sebastian Reinhard, a German-born American, becomes an interpreter at the War Crimes Tribunal and an interrogator of one of the Nazi Brigadefhrers. In this latter capacity, he learns disturbing truths about his national origin and about his father, an MIT-educated civil engineer who superintended the construction of an extermination camp. Buckley achieves a good working compromise between actual events and people (U.S. Chief Prosecutor Robert Jackson, defendants Hermann Gring, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Albert Speer, etc.) and the many fictional characters who weave in and out of his narrative. Before the powerful ending, every thread has been pulled remorselessly tight. This is National Review founder Buckley's 14th novel, and it's one of his best. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/02.] A.J. Anderson, GSLIS, Simmons Coll., Boston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



CHAPTER ONEHamburg, August 30, 1939His eyes lingered longer than usual on the headlines as he walked by the corner newsstand, the summer leaves of the overhanging oak trees brushing down over the canvas awning that protected the papers and magazines and cigarettes of the little kiosk from summer rains. Today, no headline especially arrested his attention. There was nothing beyond the run of diplomatic crises he was now numb to-England denounces German threats to Poland...Poland asserts its independence...Great Britain and France pledge aid to Poland if attacked...Moscow signs nonaggression pact with Berlin. Nothing new; nothing brand new-this last, the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact was already a week old. Axel tried to close it all out of his mind.Past the stand, turning right on Abelstrasse, Axel Reinhard was only three blocks from his apartment. He gripped hard the handle of his briefcase and looked fleetingly at his watch.Back at the office there had been a bon voyage party. Franz Heidl, the senior partner of the engineering firm, had invited a half-dozen colleagues of Heidl Sons, and also Debra-always-the office manager, to the tenth floor partners' meeting room. They had come to the boardroom at 1900, as bidden ("Please to be prompt!") to have a brandy and wish Axel a happy holiday in America (As you know, the invitation read, Axel is taking a month's leave to accompany Annabelle and their son Sebastian to New York. Young Sebastian will be going to school in America.)."Heinrich and Fritz Hassler-" Herr Heidl called for silence, tapping lightly on the cognac bottle with the back of his fountain pen. "-phoned in their regrets. I don't need to tell you, Axel, about the press of work at Heidl Sons. Fritz sends his compliments and Debra, who couldn't be with us, sends her..." he raised his brandy glass and paused for emphasis, "her love!" There was a murmur of appreciation (Debra, Hassler's secretary, was seventy years old; Axel was not yet thirty-six). "Be sure and tell that to Annabelle when you get home tonight. She may refuse to sail with you!"Axel, looking down on his short, bald boss, accepted the toast with a smile and a little bow of his head, his abundant dark hair insufficiently tended. "I'm surprised Debra didn't send her love to my son. After all, Sebastian is almost fourteen.""Is he also a lady-killer?" Heidl's leer was theatrically contrived, and the company laughed."What school in America are you sending him to?" Heinz Jutzeler, the youngest of the engineers in the room, wanted to know. Jutzeler had spent three years in Washington when his father served as cultural attach for Chancellor Hindenburg, in the last days of the Weimar Republic. Though he had returned to Hamburg at age thirteen, Jutzeler fancied himself something of an expert on America."He will go to school in Phoenix. Phoenix-" Axel assumed a professorial air and began with a word or two in an exaggerated British accent "-iss the capital of Ahr-isohn-a." H Excerpted from Nuremberg: The Reckoning by William F. Buckley All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.