Patriotism mingled with heartache
‘An Enemy Like Me’ highlights the humanity of war; the people and families behind the guns, destruction, and violence, ‘Had they [those who started the war] considered the spoiled gardens, the tearing apart of families, the devastating loneliness?’
Jakob Mueller is a first-generation American. Although he lost his father when he was just a toddler, he and his mother have survived the harsh years of the Depression through hard work. Though times have been hard, he epitomizes the American dream, exuding optimism and a youthful can-do attitude. He meets Bonnie and manages to persuade her to marry him. Together, nothing will stop them from achieving their dreams of a better life. Nothing, except war, ‘He loved his country and felt drawn to defend it. On the other hand, he had a wife and child he loved even more strongly.’ The now named Jacob Miller is conscious that being German, albeit once removed, is a dangerous position to be in, as WW2 reaches its climax. ‘Jacob was no Nazi sympathizer. He, too, wanted this madman defeated. And yet…Jacob was German.’ In the end, he feels he has no choice but to enlist, but at what cost? Not only to him but to his wife, son, mother, and in-laws? ‘Patriotism mingled with heartache.’
‘An Enemy Like Me is told in the three voices of the father, mother, and son. It’s not often we really think about the inner turmoil of those resigning themselves to enlisting and those who must be left behind. The quandary for Jacob is further exacerbated by his German heritage, ‘American Jacob Miller and German Jakob Mueller. Two personas living in one body’. War has both knowingly and unwittingly changed all of us; made all of us. And in spite of all the death and destruction, we have found success. We have a future. Lest we Forget. This a good read.
Thank you NetGalley and Atmosphere Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.
24 January 2023