In The Shadow of Dora

978-1-62288-907-5 Paperback
6 x 9 x 0 in
224 pp.
Pub Date: 10/14/2020


  • Paperback $22.00

In the Shadow of Dora spans two very different decades from the Nazi concentration camp of Dora-Mittelbau to the coast of central Florida in the late 1960s; the book tells the story of the real life intersections between the horror of the Third Reich’s V-2 rocket program and the wonderment of the Apollo missions. Eli Hessel, a brilliant young Jewish mathematician, finds himself deep beneath a mountain where he is forced to build Nazi rockets. When he is finally freed from this secret underground concentration camp, he immigrates to New York, studies astrophysics, and is recruited by NASA to help build the largest rocket ever to rise above a launch pad: the Saturn V. To his shock, though, he will be under the command of former Nazi scientists Wernher von Braun and Arthur Rudolph, both of who were at Dora. As America turns to the moon and cheers for rockets that lance the sky, Eli is swallowed up by the past and must cope with memories he thought were safely buried. This is a novel that asks questions about memory, morality, technology, and how the past influences the present. If we clamp down images of horror, will they always ignite and rise up on us?

“This is a harrowing journey of survival, one that traces the indomitable spirit of one lone man as he spirals deeper and deeper within the Holocaust—while also recognizing what it takes, minute by minute and day by day, to survive decades into the future. This painful yet beautifully written novel adds to the necessary literature of the Holocaust. Hicks is determined to undo the erasures of time while revealing our humanity with a clear-eyed lens. This is what the art of the novel was invented to do.”

Brian Turner, author of My Life as a Foreign Country and Here, Bullet

“Patrick Hicks has managed to bring two of history’s greatest events down to the molecular level in the extraordinary character of Eli Hessel, a survivor of the Holocaust and a member of the vast team of scientists that put a man on the moon. This story is gripping in its tragedy, thrilling in its detail, and unforgettable for its protagonist, whose will to not only survive, but thrive, live, and love is a testament to the human spirit. In the Shadow of Dora is tenacious, just like its hero. I’ll never forget it.”

Peter Geye, author of Northernmost and Wintering

In the Shadow of Dora is an astonishing novel. With a poet’s eye and meticulously lyric prose, Patrick Hicks unspools a harrowing tale that begins in a Nazi concentration camp and ends on the Apollo 11 launch pad. It is between these two extremes—the most base of the basest of evils and the highest of all human achievements—that Eli’s story unfolds. Hicks’ novel is fundamentally a narrative of inquiry and self-interrogation: Is the past what defines us? Does the future redeem us? How can you know if you’re dead? This is a profoundly moving book.”

Jill Alexander Essbaum, New York Times Bestselling author of Hausfrau

“Spanning decades and continents, In the Shadow of Dora reveals in aching detail the heights of human ingenuity and the depths of human cruelty, and, most importantly, the ways those heights and depths are inextricably intertwined in the history of the twentieth century. This is a revelatory novel.”

 —Joe Wilkins, author of Fall Back Down When I Die and The Mountain and the Fathers

“In this compelling novel based on historical facts, Patrick Hicks places America’s glittering quest to land on the moon squarely inside the dark shadow of the Holocaust. Few novels I have read so effectively and disturbingly question the relationship between the triumph of technological achievement and our willingness to ignore injustice.”

            —Kent Meyers, author of The Work of Wolves and Twisted Tree

Published by Stephen F. Austin University Press