The Uniform - Historical Novel Society_e
Parallel Lines

A 5-star review from 'Readers Favorite'

Reviewed By Joshua Olokodana

In a place where most people, even his friend Herman, preferred the cold comfort of death to life, David Korda’s survival instincts refused to succumb. When Leibig offered David’s services to Frau Hausler in G. Gruen’s The Uniform, David suddenly found himself on a two-hour vacation. But when he saw the uniformed corpse of a Gestapo officer, visions of a life beyond the reach of the Reich flashed before him, and an impossible feat was set in motion. However, it was not to be, as Sturmbannführer Leibig caught up to him despite his disguise, and by the time he knew it, he was on the way to Ebensee prison camp. What a crime it was to be a Jew! Nevertheless, a mistimed honk, an overconfident Leibig, and a few injections of morphine were all it took to ensure that David was the one dropping off a feeble-minded “Jew” at Ebensee. But David’s "Old Testament" revenge barely lasted long enough to get him through the gates of Ebensee before the Germans discovered his trick. He’s lucky enough to be traveling the rugged terrain to Switzerland atop an Olympian horse, but can David outrun the Wehrmacht?

The Uniform by G. Gruen is the heart-rending narration of David Korda’s experience of what it meant to be a Jew during the Third Reich. It depicts the brutality meted out to Jews and the complicity of people who took advantage of it to elevate their social status. The plot was poignant and loaded with unabashedly grim scenes. I never thought a story could truly convey horror and humor simultaneously, but Mr. Gruen’s expert portrayal of David as a person who wore his sense of humor like a badge did the trick. His writing was flawless! Yet, I couldn’t keep my heart from pounding as I saw David’s chances improve and diminish throughout the book. It was a breathtaking rollercoaster, and knowing that it was inspired by actual events made it even more unnerving. Although the novel was narrated in the third person, I'm pleased it didn’t overlook the tendency of the Nazi officers to do anything for survival or promotion. I'm convinced that The Uniform’s frankness and polished writing, with its colorful touches of humor, ensure its status as one of the best Holocaust-themed books. 

Parallel Lines
Sphere on Spiral Stairs

From The Prairies Book Review

A Crackling Historical Thriller That’s One To Savor

G. Gruen brings to life the WWII era to life in this taut, atmospheric tale of a Jewish labor camp prisoner’s attempt to escape from captivity. Life is hard, but it is his youthful vigor and determined wit that’s keeping David Korda, a young medical doctor trained at Prague’s finest university, alive in the Nazi’s ragged labor camp as a prisoner. With only hours until his transport to a death camp, David stumbles upon the body of a murdered Gestapo officer and realizes the dead man’s uniform is his last chance at escape. But with Leibig, a ruthless SS officer, on his trail, escape is not as easy as it seems. Gruen demonstrates a mastery of classic realism as he draws his authentic cast of characters. David is an endearing protagonist, vibrating with a youthful vigor and wit. He realistically conveys how David navigates life as a prisoner of the Nazi, capturing his emotional anguish as he tries to come to terms with the reality of being a Jew. The WWII era is evoked with keen atmospheric detail. Gruen offers an unflinching depiction of anti-Semitism, and his portrayal of how the war’s wretched conditions bring out people’s worst behavior, including greed, betrayal, jealousy, and violence, is compelling. Plot threads of regret, revenge, and endearing camaraderie between man and beast emerge as David takes out a daring endeavor, setting out to escape the clutches of the Nazi. This suspenseful survival story moves briskly, delivering evocative, tense scenes on a war-trodden land. Readers looking for finely constructed historical fiction with fully realized characters and a thrilling survival story are sure to be enamored.

From The Midwest Book Review

Reviewed by Diane Donovan

The Uniform represents a military historical thriller at its finest. Perhaps this is because it's based on true events, and that tone of real drama is captured from the start. 

The story opens in 1944, when a young doctor on his way to a Nazi death camp stumbles on the body of a murdered Gestapo officer and takes his uniform in an effort to survive. Initially trained as a medic in Prague, David Korda has spent his confinement trying to ingratiate himself to his captors.  Now he can be one of them. Or, can he?

The uniform changes everything, but it also places him in a position of added danger from unexpected events that involve him in different and deeper mysteries than those of survival and adaptation alone.

From preserving the fabric of his disguise (literally and figuratively) to navigating the strange new world the uniform has introduced him to, David finds himself at different odds with his world and draws, once again, on his latent medical skills to save himself and those around him.

G. Gruen provides an exacting, step-by-step drama that follows David through concentration camps and beyond.

A host of characters interact with him as he attempts to repair more than the uniform, only to find he's become mired in new dilemmas that test his abilities, courage, and determination to survive. The thriller components are just as deeply steeped into the story as its historical and mystery-laced encounters, creating a captivating tale replete with treachery and danger.

Readers looking for a World War II scenario of a very different ilk than most, and libraries seeking thriller-style novels embedded with unpredictable drama and action, will find The Uniform defies pat categorization, but assumes a life of its own that makes it hard to put down. Its outcome is satisfyingly difficult to predict as David navigates the two choices of being a prisoner or a representative of the oppressor he fights against.