Monday, October 11, 2010

The Holcroft Covenant, by Robert Ludlum

(hb; 1978)

From the inside flap:

"March, 1945. From all over war-devastated Europe, by plane and ship and submarine, are secretly dispatched shipments of precious cargo. Children. German children. To nations everywhere. These are die Sonnenkinder, children who will come of age and in the 1970s carry out their preordained mission -- the establishment of the Fourth Reich. Everywhere.

"Noel Holcroft, an American architect, is flown to Geneva and shown an extraordinary document drawn up by three men more than thirty years ago, each a member of the Third Reich's High Command -- one of them Noel's long-forgotten, natural father. The three men, appalled by the revealed horrors of the Nazi machine, have created a covenant, and executed a massive theft. The sum of $780,000,000.00 was stolen from the German coffers, and in atonement for Hitler's crimes these monies are to be used to aid the survivors and descendants of those trapped in the Holocaust. All that's necessary to release the funds is Holcroft's signature and the signature of the other two heirs. They must be found.

"But the document is a lie. The millions are to be the economic foundation of a vast and ruthless plan that will politically shape governments across the world, a plan so brilliantly conceived it cannot fail. The other heirs are waiting: they know the true intention. Noel does not. In signing the covenant, Holcroft will in effect be signing his own death warrant just as he is signing away the future of free people everywhere. Yet even when he finds out what the document really is, even when he discovers who is enemies are and what power lies in their hands, he determines to aid in the release of the funds, for ironically it is the only chance to stop the plan and the men who are determined to carry it out."


Ludlum's trademark conspiratorial and labyrinthine plotting/twists/characterization, masterful bursts of violence and action, and reader-compelling prose made this near impossible to set down.

Great, fast read despite its bulk. Worth owning, this.

The film version was released stateside on October 18, 1985.

Michael Caine played Noel Holcroft. Victoria Tennant played Helden von Tiebolt/Helden Tennyson. Anthony Andrews played Johann von Tiebolt/John Tennyson. Lilli Palmer played Althene Holcroft. Michael Lonsdale played Ernst Manfredi. Shane Rimmer played Lt. Miles. Bernard Hepton played Commander Leighton.

Richard Münch, billed as Richard Munch, played Oberst. Mario Adorf played Erich Kessler/Jürgen Mass. Carl Rigg played Anthony Beaumont. Alexander Kerst played Gen. Heinrich Clausen. Michael Wolf played Gen. Erich Kessler. Hugo Bower played Gen. Wilhelm von Tiebolt.

The Holcroft Covenant was directed by John Frankenheimer, who also voiced -- uncredited and unseen -- the character Bernie Sussman. The film was co-scripted by George Axelrod, Edward Anhalt and John Hopkins.

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