Book excerpt: “The Nazi Conspiracy”

Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch previously wrote political thrillers in their bestsellers “The First Conspiracy” (about the treason plot against General George Washington) and “The Lincoln Conspiracy” (about the initial attempt to assassinate Abraham Lincoln). The leaders have explored dramatic plots against them. in his first term in office).

In his latest book, “The Nazi Conspiracy: The Secret Plan to Kill Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill”. (Flatiron Books), they examine an alleged Nazi plot to assassinate three allies when they attended a summit in Tehran in 1943—a plot thwarted by FDR’s Secret Service chief.

Read the quote below, and Don’t miss Jim Axelrod’s interview Brad Meltzer on “CBS Sunday Morning” January 29!


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Tehran, Iran
November 28, 1943

The president is hidden.

The street is lined with soldiers. There are thousands of them, stretching for blocks on both sides. Most of them wear Soviet uniforms, some are British or American.

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They are aiming automatic rifles. In hot, dry weather they use their arms and bodies to fend off noisy crowds who try to pass by to see what’s going on – or rather who’s coming.

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It is a broad, central thoroughfare from the bustling city of Tehran, the capital of Iran.


Flatiron Books

Here in late November 1943, the city is in the highest state of chaos. Starting today, it will be the site of one of the world’s most important events during World War II. This incident was previously kept secret, but now it has become public. Although Iran was not militarily involved in the war, it was held by the Allies, thus prompting the presence of Soviet security forces in the event.

A roar rises from the crowd. Soldiers and spectators alike make their way toward the procession of vehicles, a mix of military and civilian vehicles. At the center of the car is a long, dark sedan that shines in the bright sunlight. This is the car that the soldiers have been ordered to protect.

Those who can get a glimpse see the driver in the front seat of the car. In the back is a passenger, a tall, white-haired man in late middle age. Crowds on both sides of the road crane their necks to get a better view. Suddenly, a hand comes out of the car window as the man waves. People move forward, everyone trying to catch a glimpse of the President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Or at least, that’s who they think is inside.

As the presidential delegation moves through the city, it passes crowded markets and residential buildings. Some residents watch the spectacle from the windows or roof. The dark sedan’s destination today is no secret: the president is traveling to the Soviet embassy, ​​a walled and heavily guarded complex of buildings north of the city center. There, FDR would meet two fellow world leaders who were his allies in the war: Joseph Stalin, Prime Minister of the Soviet Union; and Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of England.

It will be a summit of world-historic significance: the first time the “big three” leaders of the allied forces in the current war will meet in person. The conference took nearly a year of planning, involving extensive geopolitical coordination and complex security considerations.

Yet amidst the grand spectacle, all is not as it seems. Unbeknownst to the onlookers and soldiers—and even to many in the crowd—the tall gray-haired man in the back seat of this sedan is not, in fact, the President of the United States. Instead, he is a member of the United States Secret Service, wearing a bulletproof vest and excuse become president

of the bona fide The president is not in this car either. At this moment, the real FDR is down in the back of a very different vehicle, racing a small, dirty sedan on the back roads of the city. While the president’s black limousine is surrounded by armored cars and military personnel, the undocumented car carrying the real president’s identity is only passed by a speeding jeep as it tears down the winding roads.

Why this widespread betrayal?

Late last night, high-ranking Soviet intelligence officials informed US security of a dangerous discovery: in this Allied-controlled city, Nazi agents were on the move. According to the Russians, their mission is to kill Roosevelt. and Churchill. And Stalin. It’s an almost believable plot, thrilling in its audacity. Here in Tehran, during this important conference, Nazi agents will attempt to assassinate the Big Three.

If successful, this plot will have consequences that are almost impossible to understand.

It’s been almost four years now, and World War II has engulfed the planet. All regions of Europe, Asia and North Africa have been completely destroyed. The suffering and loss of life is almost incalculable and continues daily. Mass atrocities against civilians are almost too numerous to count. Right now, there is no immediate end in sight.

The driving force behind the war is a fearsome and terrifying ideology that has taken root in several countries, but has reached its most severe and violent form in Germany under the leadership of the Nazi Party. Built on a fragmented form of radical patriotism, it is fueled by racial hatred, mass propaganda, conspiracy theories, demonization of minority groups, and a cult of personality around a narcissistic leader. Under the influence of this ideology – as well as the ruthless political party that promotes it – a country that once embraced democratic values ​​has descended into authoritarianism, hatred and violence. It was Germany and its main allies Italy and Japan that started this disastrous war.

The clash of world military powers, as vast as it is, is not all that is at stake. As the Nazi regime expands, it commits mass atrocities that go beyond the scope of ordinary warfare, targeting people it deems “undesirable”: Roma, the mentally ill, Poles, and other Slavic peoples. Civilians, including women and children, are routinely imprisoned, tortured, killed, or simply killed.

Above all, the regime has directed its brutality towards a group that has, from the beginning, insulted and blamed the Jewish people. To solve what they called the “Jewish problem” in Europe, Nazi leaders, during the war, developed a tool of mass murder that would be so horrific that the world would fully understand it.

To counter this, the Allies had long awaited this summit of the Big Three – the leaders of the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union – knowing that this meeting in Tehran represented the best and perhaps only opportunity for the Allied Powers. Implementing a military strategy that would eventually weaken Nazi Germany and put an end to the war that caused such suffering around the world. Planning and implementing this strategy will be a major undertaking that will require international military coordination on an unprecedented scale.

Millions of lives depend on the success of this conference. Probably millions.

If the Nazis had their way, these three world leaders would not leave the city alive—and the Allies’ hopes for victory would die with them.

This is no exaggeration: the survival of nations is at stake.

And just now, FDR is down, hiding behind a speeding car.

Excerpt from “The Nazi Conspiracy”. Copyright © 2023 by Forty Steps, Inc. Taken with permission from Flatiron Books, a division of Macmillan Publishers. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission from the publisher.

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