Furst provides us a grim reminder of how even the commonest of people’s lives were upturned and capsized by the base, selfish actions of European despots as the events leading to WWII unfolded around their legs.
It should give us pause to remember how much of the world’s populace still lives such capricious lives today, and a stark reminder of how fragile the system put in place in the post-war West, one that provided peace and prosperity for close to 100 years, could just as quickly unravel, as today’s modern leaders once again put their personal selfish needs above the world’s.
Harris’ FATHERLAND, set in historical Nazi Germany, was a tour de force of Alternative History. Thank God, then, that Harris now returns to Germany-in-the-past, this time to offer a book of “faction” focusing on British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s calamitous journey to Munich to appease Hitler and hand over the Czech Sudetenland to the Nazis.
How else could we know the colour of the draperies in each of the rooms the ostensible “protagonist” carries two red boxes from room to room throughout the book, for nothing else new of historical significance nor literary merit is otherwise added.
The problem with this book is that it’s neither fish nor fowl. Roth is a literary writer. He’s trying to write genre fiction: alternative history. In Roth’s hands, the two don’t mix. The result is as appetizing as mixing soy sauce into coffee and trying to enjoy it. The result is foul.
Downing’s novels are wonderful, dark yet hopeful vignette’s into the evil and ?? of the human soul. This one follows an extended family’s story in the last gasps of Hitler’s Germany. What I like most about Downing is the focus on “small” people and events caught up in the epic fails and Great Men of history. His stories are all the more real for it.