Eminent Domain In Fiction.

We have just been advised by a colleague that a new Harlan Coben bestselling book, “The Stranger” offers a plot that involves two eminent domain actions. We haven’t read it yet, but we sure intend to do so at the earliest opportunity. Should be worthwhile. Also, we recently came across an episode of the PBS series “Foyle’s War.” It is a British series about a bright, effective police officer, Detective Superintendent Foyle who is forbidden to enlist in the military in WW II so that he can continue to fight crime on the home front, where his prowess as a cop enables him to do his job well. But as the war ends, Foyle gets tired of moral compromises he is called upon to make in order to accommodate the war effort, so he retires from the police force. At this point, Foyle is assigned to British intelligence where by virtue of the work the spooks are called upon to perform, morality goes out the window, much to his displeasure. “Foyle’s War” has been a great, entertaining program, and we recommend it highly. But this blog is primarily about eminent domain and such, so this post is devoted to our recommendation of one of the last Foyle episodes (when he serves with the British intelligence boffins), that is entitled “Sunflower.” It’s main plot has to do with good guy Americans tracking down a nasty Nazi SS type in order to arrest him for the atrocity of ordering (and participating in) the murder of some two dozen American POWs in the ending days of the war. The British intelligence types know all about his misdeeds but shelter him anyway because he is supplying them with useful information about  intelligence matters. Nasty business that pisses Foyle off but never quite gets him to defy his intelligence betters to act. What does that have to do with eminent domain, you ask? The subplot involves a condemnation action in which a British citizen’s land had been taken “for the duration” of the war, but not returned upon its end. Which pisses off the former owner mightily and causes him to demand persistently that the British government live up to its promise made at the time of the taking. The problem is that the government minister in charge of matters that include such land won’t do his duty and live up to the government’s promise to return it after the war, in spite of the former owner’s increasingly strident demand that he do so. Altogether, a good plot with good actors acting out a good story. Apart from the nasty Nazi who gets his in the end, the bad-guy government minister has to resign in the end when one of his associates fingers him for failing to do his duty — he, on the other hand, wants to keep the land in agricultural use to relieve food shortages in post-war Britain, but doesn’t want to pay for it.

So we write to call your attention to Foyle’s War “Sunflower” segment. It’s available on Netflix. Get it, along with the rest of the “Foyle’s War” series for some good entertainment.
Oh, and what about that nasty Nazi sheltered by the Brits? He gets his in the form of being nabbed by intrepid Americans who mean to get even for his murder of all those American POWs.  A good plot (and subplot) and a good surprise ending. Justice triumphs in spite of British spooks and bureaucrats working to defeat it. Foyle may not come off as a self-sacrificing hero defying his betters (that role goes to another British intelligence operative), but he also manages to keep his skirts clean when the chips come down and people need to be counted as good guys or bad guys.
We like “Foyle’s War,” the whole series,  so we recommend  “Sunflower” in particular on general principles, and for its eminent domain related plot. Enjoy!
Follow-up.  We finally read that Coben book, “The Stranger” and it turns out that we were misinformed. While, true enough, the main character is an eminent domain lawyer, the plot has nothing to do with that subject.

One thought on “Eminent Domain In Fiction.

  1. athEIst

    RE: taking.
    This involves Howard Jarvis(you may have heard of him) and why he hated the government so much. Mr. Jarvis purchased a failed paint company near the tail-end of the depression. Paints were oil-based in those days but Jarvis knew that soon paints would be latex-based. He purchased several tons of latex, did some experiments and was planning to bring out some latex-based paint in early 1942. Well on Dec 7 1941…..and his latex was requisitioned by the government as an essential war material. He followed the government truck that took his latex to a government warehouse. After the war, with much prodding from Jarvis, the government said he could have his latex back. He could pick it up at that government warehouse where it had sat for 5 years and was now useless.

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