Return of Lanny Budd Summary
The Return of Lanny Budd is the eleventh and final book in the enormous epic Lanny Budd World’s End series written by Pulitzer Prize Winner and legend, Upton Sinclair. Written in 1953 at the pinnacle of the Cold War, this story covers the period between 1946 and 1949. Post World War Two, Lanny comes out of retirement as a Presidential Agent to assist the United States as the Russian menace grows.
For all readers who have reviled in Lanny’s numerous adventures, travels and conversations with the leading politicians, industrialists, financial powers and military leaders you will surely enjoy this, the final book, in Upton’s great historical narrative that began when Lanny was 13 years old and just prior to the beginning of World War One.
As the story begins, Lanny is running his Radio Peace Program with his wife Laurel Creston, Rick, Nina, Lanny’s daughter Frances and Rick and Nina’s son Scrubbie with the help of thousands of volunteers, all from an old abandoned refurbished factory in New Jersey.
Lanny is recruited into the Secret Service, which has responsibility for the Treasury Department, to help end Nazi gangs who are counterfeiting Allied currency in Germany. Remnants of the Nazi regime have stolen plates to print US and other Allied currency and have hidden millions of dollars in gold whisked away prior to the end of the War. Lanny’s boyhood friend and the famous German Komponist, Kurt Meissner is one of the ring leaders in this conspiracy. He is eventually taken prisoner by the Allies controlling the Western Sector of Berlin. He promises to cooperate and end his participation in the conspiracy headed by Neo-Nazi’s to protect his family and return to his music endeavors. The suspense builds as Lanny leads a group trying to capture the printing plates and discover where the gold is hidden. The ending will surprise even the most intuitive reader.
While on this mission Lanny is shocked by what he sees in Russian controlled parts of Europe. He questions his own ideas as to the preaching of peace vis-à-vis arming against yet another tyranny already on the march towards world domination. In Stalin, Lanny sees a tyrant much like Hitler, Goring and the other Nazi’s. Selling the socialism Lanny believes in, while building a military juggernaut and murdering and imprisoning all opposition.
Lanny brings his Radio Peace effort to Germany and works with the forerunner to the Voice of America Radio program. His radio work is an effort to promote peace and understanding for the German people whom Lanny has loved since boyhood. He is finally recognized and then targeted by the Russian KGB and is kidnapped and taken to East Berlin. Lanny is subjected to torture for purporting a conspiring to assassinate Marshall Stalin. The week of the torture is suspenseful and the efforts to find and liberate him are as exciting as any previous adventure.
Lanny is horrified to learn that his half sister, Bess, a lifelong Communist, is being watched by the FBI, suspected of transmitting secret material to Russians agents. Hansi, agonized by this development, decides to finally break with Bess, but cooperates with the FBI by pretending to be a communist himself. This part of the story by itself would be worthy of a full book but the espionage and counterespionage in the Hansibess family is supplementary tot the larger story of events in Europe. In an extraordinary story, Lanny is able to foil his interrogators by suggesting that Bess is in fact a counterespionage agent for the United States. The reader will appreciate the ingenuity Lanny uses to persuade Bess of the evils of communism after his escape.