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The Boys from Brazil

The Boys from Brazil (1976) is a fiction thriller novel by Ira Levin. It was subsequently made into a movie which was released in 1978; this is documented in The Boys from Brazil (movie). This is one of the earliest pieces of science fiction to deal seriously with the prospect of cloning.

Story line

Yakov Liebermann is an elderly gentleman who is known as a Nazi hunter: he runs a center in Vienna that documents crimes against humanity perpetrated during the Holocaust. Center is a big word: the waning interest of the Western nations in tracking down Nazi criminals has forced him to move the center to his lodgings.

Then, in September 1974, he receives a disturbing phone call from a young man who claims he has just finished eavesdropping on the Angel of Death, Dr. Josef Mengele, the concentration camp medical doctor who performed horrible experiments on Nazi victims. According to the young man, Mengele is activating the Kameradenwerk for a strange and gruesome assignment: he is sending out eight Nazis to kill 94 men, who share a few common traits. All men are civil servants and all of them have to be killed on a certain date, give or take a few days.

Before the young man can finish the conversation, there is a muffled sound of sudden action, then icy nothing, then the line goes dead.

Liebermann hesitates about what to do: he gets so many crank calls. But what if what the young man said is true? He decides to try and find out what's going on. A crazy hunt for Mengele and his boys ensues.


The book claims that the characters, with the exception of the 'persons of note', are not intended to represent specific living persons. However, the Liebermann character bears a more than passing resemblance to Simon Wiesenthal.

See also the alternate history novels that deal with the Nazi regime: