At first, nothing she found among the ruins of his apartment changed what Lucinda Franks knew about her father. There were cigarette butts and coffee stains, and spoiled food on the kitchen counter. There were piles of old newspapers on the floor and weevils in a box of Wheaties. And there was her elderly father himself, as polite and distant as ever, gradually falling into the grasp of dementia.
But when she found a small box among his possessions with an Iron Cross, a Nazi cap, and several old surveillance photos, she realized that there was something very important she had never known about him.
His family had thought he was only a Navy lieutenant during World War II, but Thomas Franks was a secret agent in the U.S. military intelligence service. In My Father's Secret War, Lucinda Franks explores the letters he wrote home, his fragmented service records, and the few stories he reluctantly told at the end of his life - about posing as an SS officer and reporting on the horrific concentration camp at Ohrdruf, about making solo parachute drops in the South Pacific and discovering a double agent among his closest friends.
With investigative skills honed during more than four decades as a journalist, she pieces together the life he could never share with his family and the heavy toll his service took on him. Through it all, she looks back over her own life and tries to understand her relationship with the father she thought she knew.
Lucinda Franks, a former staff writer for The New York Times, has written regularly for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and other publications. She won a Pulitzer Prize for a five-part series on the Weathermen in 1971, becoming the first woman to win the Pulitzer for national reporting. She began her career with United Press International, where she reported from areas of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. She is also the author of Waiting Out A War and a novel, Wild Apples. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children.
DVD 2008-06-09: Lucinda Franks
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