4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
The Dilsberg Engagement is a memoir, a love story, a travelogue, as well as a tale of resistance, loss, and friendship. In 1973, Mike McDougal, a clerk in the US Army Military Intelligence Unit in Germany discovers wiretap transcripts of certain peace activists’ phone conversations. Activists like Max Watts, a journalist and anti-war activist, as well as Howard De Nike, an attorney are among the people being subject to illegal surveillance. Mike steals the transcripts and shares them with his girlfriend, Danielle Jaussaud. In this book, she writes about Mike’s decision to reveal the army’s wiretap transcripts to Howard De Nike and Max Watts. When the story is exposed in the New York Times, Mike valiantly fights against his superiors through press conferences, letters, and articles. The tale is set against the backdrop of the end of the Vietnam War and the Watergate hearings. Amidst all of this, Danielle describes her romance with Mike, their travel expeditions, their friendships, and how their lives change as time goes on.
Danielle Jaussaud wrote a poignant, thrilling tale that wove together politics, activism, romance, and loss. I think it was a remarkable memoir which not only told the tale of Mike and herself but also of Max Watts. I really enjoyed the way she reconstructed the events into a story, complete with photographs, dialogue, and the characters’ feelings. I felt as if I were reading a thrilling historical fiction story rather than a memoir. This only made the book more fascinating for me because it was all true. The radical lives that the characters lived was definitely worth reading about.
I appreciated the way in which activism and resistance were portrayed. The characters took sensible approaches to deal with the issues they were fighting against. Mike’s defiant and amusing nature shone through his ordeals such as when he gave an interrogator a hard time by refusing to answer his questions and when he deliberately planted a copy of army regulations that prohibited surveillance of civilians. The military officers ransacked his room and were annoyed to find it since it represented the very thing they hated him for exposing. I laughed aloud at this. Max Watts’ unwavering support to draft dodgers and deserters in Paris was also remarkable.
Furthermore, I loved reading about the everyday aspects of the characters’ lives. I appreciated the cultural nods to various food, places, and customs. Additionally, Danielle’s constant companion back then other than Mike was her dog, Benji. His charismatic presence in the book provided a jovial contrast to the seriousness of the other issues. I also enjoyed reading about the couples’ trip to meet Danielle’s sister and her quirky mother. The story of how Danielle first met Mike, along with their travel adventures, added a unique flair to the story. I really connected to the characters because of these details and this made the ending much more significant and emotional when I read about what eventually happened to them as time went on.
Overall, this was a remarkable true story which was well-written, professionally edited, interesting, and motivating. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys memoirs and historical stories. This book will be a real gem to readers who like reading about politics, activism, and travel. I am happy to rate it 4 out of 4 stars!
The Dilsberg Engagement
View: on Bookshelves