The Sentinels: Fortunes of War by Gordon Zuckerman is a World War II story with a difference. Instead of focusing on Hitler or the persecuted Jews, Zuckerman weaves an intelligent tale of six super-wealthy, super-clever economics students who come up with a plan to prevent the War from escalating any further.
Cecelia Chang, Claudine Demaureux, Tony Garibaldi, Ian Meyer, Jacques Roth and Mike Stone formulate a strategy to take money out of the pockets of the German industrialists who are prolonging the War and initiating their own schemes for their own financial benefit.
With the six of them living across three continents, they must work together and on their own in order to make this happen — something that is given an extra edge considering that they live in a world without mobile phones or email. However, when the German industrialists realize that something is wrong, the six sentinels must call on their familial and political ties, as well as their own guile and survival skills.
The characters are strong, faulty, yet clever, and, despite them all being rich and intelligent, they are also likeable; their dedication and determination to carry out their plan is admirable.
Fortunes of War skillfully entwines political drama, dangerous romance, riveting action, and set against a well-worn historical background while giving it a fresh look. However, in some places the book seems to move too quickly. One sentence following on from another can be a leap of months, which seems to simultaneously take away the urgency of what the sentinels are trying to do, while feeling as though there was a lot more in between.
Setting the time-warps aside, Fortunes of War is a gripping political thriller that rewrites the World War II genre. If you think you’ve covered every possible angle on this period of history, think again.