The White Tower is shivery adventure

In The White Tower, James Ramsey Ullman turns several familiar themes inside out and upside down.

The result is World War II adventure story that appeals even to sedentary readers like me.

The White Tower  by James Ramsey Ullman

Lippincott, 1945. 479 pages. 1945 bestseller # 4. My grade: B+.

Spine art for The White Tower shows mountansand rocksHit by shrapnel during a bombing raid, Martin Ordway’s plane goes down in the Swiss Alps near a village where he spent his student vacations.

While friends arrange to slip him out of the country, Martin poses as a tourist. He organizes a group to climb the village side of Weissturm, the White Tower, which has never been scaled.

Besides Martin, the group includes an aging British geologist, a depressed French writer, an arthritic Alpine guide, an Austrian woman separated from her Nazi husband, and a German solider who is also a renowned mountain climber.

Sounds like a set-up for a Hollywood movie, doesn’t it?

Well, Ullman avoids that trap. No clichés for him.

Characters are well-drawn.

Action is tense.

Mountain settings are shiveringly vivid.

Contemporary readers may find the occasional German and French phrases difficult — today’s readers lack the language skills our 1940’s forebears had — but I could usually get the gist.

Whatever your linguistic skills, The White Tower remains a great book to climb into bed with.

© 2015 Linda Gorton Aragoni


Published by

Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.