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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-03-26 18:37
Exodus von Leon Uris
Exodus: Das große Epos um die Gründung Israels (Taschenbuch) - Leon Uris

Leon Uris bettet die historischen Ereignisse rund um die Gründung des Staates Israel in einen umfangreichen Roman ein.

 

Kurz nach dem Ende des 2. Weltkrieges warten Tausende Juden in Lagern in Westeuropa und Zypern auf die Einreiseerlaubnis nach Palästina, das zu dem Zeitpunkt von Großbritannien besetzt ist. Da trifft die amerikanische Kinderkrankenschwester Kitty auf Zypern auf den jüdischen Agenten Ari, der plant, die Blockade vor Palästina mit einem Schiff voller jugendlicher Flüchtlinge zu brechen, und Kitty um Hilfe bittet. Damit nimmt die Geschichte ihren Lauf.

 

Das, was diesen Roman von der Durchschnittskriegsromanze abhebt, ist sicherlich die eindrückliche Schilderung der jüdischen Geschichte: von Ghettos und Pogromen bis hin zum Holocaust, Gaskammern und Internierungslagern *nach* der Befreiung. Dazu eine britische Regierung, die sich gar nicht mit Ruhm bekleckert, sondern Versprechen bricht rechts und links... alles nur des Zugangs zum Öl bzw Suezkanal. 70 Jahre später haben sich die politischen und wirtschaftlichen Interessen nicht so geändert, diese Nebenbemerkung sei erlaubt.

 

Dazu kommen die individuellen Schicksale von Aris Vater und Onkel, die aus Osteuropa Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts zu Fuß vor den Pogromen flüchten. Während Aris Vater Barak den Weg der Verhandlungen einschlägt, schließt sich der Onkel Akiba einer terroristischen Freiheitsbewegung an. Anhand ihrer Geschichte erzählt Uris die Entstehung der Kibbuze und schlußendlich die Gründung des Staates. Dann sind noch Dov Landau, ein polnischer Bursche, dessen gesamte Familie ermordet wurde und der nichts anderes als Ghetto und KZ kennt und dementsprechend wütend und desillusioniert im zypriotischen Lager landet und schließlich eines der Kinder von Aris Plan wird - genauso wie Karen, die das Glück hatte, rechtzeitig nach Dänemark geschickt zu werden, und so dem Holocaust entkam, die aber nun auf der Suche nach ihrem überlebenden Vater auch den Weg nach Palästina via Zypern und Aris Schiff sucht.

 

Ari selbst ist der typische Freiheitskämpfer, der Held mit Tiefgang sozusagen. An ihm im Einzelfall, aber sozusagen als Stellvertreter für die gesamte jüdische Gesellschaft, zeigt Uris die Formung des Charakters durch Verlust, Tod und Kampf: Nichts wird geschenkt, alles muss erkämpft werden (sei es durch Urbarmachung von Sümpfen oder Kampfhandlungen), und Schicksalsschläge werden ertragen und machen stärker. Genau diese Charakterisierung als absolut gut und die folgende Schwarz-Weiß-Malerei mit einfach nur abgrundbösen, verräterischen "Arabern", näher definiert wird da nicht, sie morden, rauben und vergewaltigen, haben keine Kultur, Hygiene oder sonstwie Wissen, und die Briten, die mit wenigen Ausnahmen auch einfach nur böse sind, ist mir zu wenig differenziert. Das mag grob geschichtlich stimmen, aber ein Roman lebt an sich von den Schattierungen, ganz besonders, wo's klare Fronten gibt.

 

Blass bleibt Kitty, die nicht-jüdische Kinderkrankenschwester, Mann und tote Tochter betrauernd (kein Zusammenhang mit dem Krieg), denn ganz erschließt sich mir ihre Motivation nicht. Zu Anfang ist sie richtiggehend von Karen besessen, in der sie sozusagen eine Art Tochterersatz sieht und die sie gleich nach Amerika adoptieren will. Dazu kommen ihre Argwohn gegenüber dem Fremden, Jüdischen. Nur wegen Karen und weil sie sich irgendwie zu Ari hingezogen fühlt, nimmt sie an dem Abenteuer der Überfahrt nach Palästina teil. Ihre Gefühle zu Ari aber kann sie nicht wirklich ausleben, weil der "nicht weint" und sie auch nicht zu brauchen scheint. Auch hier wünscht sie also eine Art von Abhängigkeitsverhältnis, das mir nicht wirklich gesund oder wie eine gleichberechtigte Partnerschaft erscheint. Und genau mit dieser Charakterisierung aber fällt die Wirkung der gezeigten Romanze flach.

 

Somit bleibt ein ausgezeichneter Eindruck der jüdischen Geschichte, und ja, aus diesem Teil kann man als Nicht-Jude definitiv viel erfahren, der Rest allerdings sackt doch ins Durchschnittliche ab. Schade.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-12-25 18:19
The Class by Erich Segal
The Class - Erich Segal

This novel follows the lives of 5 Harvard graduates, beginning with their enrollment until their 25th graduation anniversary:

 

* Ted, a classicist, Greek, an outsider because he doesn't live on campus - always struggling to make his mark

 

* Jason, a sports star, jewish only on the paper - until the loss of the love of his life leads him to Israel

 

* Danny, a piano prodigy, always looking for public applause and sometimes overreaching

 

* Andy whose family funded one of the houses within campus. He never extinguishes himself professionally but in the end has an impact on all of them

 

* George, a Hungarian refugee, obsessed with politics and making his life worth the sacrifices he made.

 

This is an interesting novel but again for the most part it failed to actually engage me on a more emotional level. All of the protagonists are driven by professional ambition (nurtured by their families and the alma mater), disregarding their private lives, maybe except for Jason who actually follows his heart's desire and leaves the US and Harvard behind. But the others have to learn their lessons after affairs and putting public adulation before love and dedication - and some never learn.

 

Still in the final analysis, again, this novel left open much of the interior workings. Romances don't get infused with emotions, they're told pretty much straight-forward, like reciting facts... and given some characters' attitudes it's pretty difficult to see how anyone could fall for them and/or agree to marry them. So, it's the heart of the story essentially that's missing (for the most part). And adding that heart would have lifted this novel from average to good in no time. But it was not to be.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-10-23 22:16
Man, Woman and Child by Erich Segal
Man, Woman, and Child - Erich Segal

Sheila and Bob lead the perfect life, successful in their jobs, 2 daughters, an epitome of a marriage - but Bob has kept a secret for 10 years, a secret that comes back to haunt him when he takes a call from France.

 

Years ago, I read Segal's "Doctors" 3 times, I read Acts of Faith, Love Story, Oliver's Story and Prizes and I remember them all, especially Doctors, very fondly. Maybe that's why this book ultimately disappointed me. First of all, the prose seemed incredibly simple and dispassionate at times.

 

And secondly and more importantly, how can a matter so complex as having a child from an affair a decade ago turn up, be handled properly in just over 200 pages? 50 of which deal with flashbacks to the beginnings of Sheila and Bob's relationship and to his affair? The focus is with the family the boy comes into, but the boy himself who after all just lost practically his whole world, is more a footnote. Where's just one thought about what's best for this child? Instead we read about 2 spoiled girls, Sheila who's tempted to sort of return the affair-favour, and Bob who just feels guilty. But the premise would have deserved much more...

 

That the book still gets an average rating is due to the fact that in the end, I got sucked into the story. But the disappointment remains.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-09-18 11:03
Lustrum by Robert Harris
Lustrum - Robert Harris

This is the second part of Harris's Cicero-trilogy. The author claims that you should be able to read this book independently, but in my opinion you should have at least some idea about the various alliances and enmities that made up "Imperium".

 

Lustrum spans 5 years, beginning at the eve of Cicero's 1-year consulship when a young slave, owned by Cicero's co-consul Hybrida, is found mutilated. What follows is a row of unholy alliances to thwart the attempt of overthrowing the republic by Catilina and his followers. While Cicero is hailed saviour of the republic, his adherence to the rule of law opens the door for the rise of the mob on the one side and Caesar's rule on the other, disregarding protocol and pushing through legislation via bribery and threats. The senate's power is on the decline, the government now consists of Caesar, Crassus and Pompey with narcissist Clodius ruling the mob. And Cicero has to flee into the night.

 

The last 100 pages or so quite honestly gave me the chills. Cicero might have thwarted the most overt attack on the republic during his consulship... but he couldn't prevent the slow decline, the rise of the mob and Caesar's usurping power. Everytime he thinks he has slain a monster, it grows back 7 more heads. And that's rather disquieting. Of course, Cicero's not without blame, either. He chose to rest on his laurels, he made pacts that later on bit him in the behind, he wasn't careful enough about whom to trust, and that's what leads to his fall from grace.

 

But the chilling sensation doesn't only come from the story itself, the tale of a corrupt republic that tears itself apart. No, rather than talking about the long lost Roman republic this novel feels damningly real in this age and time where we see mob-like movements on the streets and online, where we see demagogues taking control of that mob and pointing fingers (and the mob mindlessly following), where we see established parties stuck in corruption and self-annihilation, where we see so much anger, hatred and negative campaigning instead of enthusiasm and new ideas, where we see divide and conquer instead of unity and common ground. Sounds pretty relevant in the current climate to me.

 

Overall, a satisfying and thought-provoking novel - on to part 3.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-09-17 12:04
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: A Stitch in Time by Andrew J. Robinson
A Stitch in Time - Andrew J. Robinson

Stories about Cardassia and Garak have easily become my favourite part of TrekLit nowadays, so it was time to reread this excellent "autobiography".

 

Divided into 3 parts, A Stitch in Time sheds light on Garak's history, the way others always made decisions for him, the way loss and betrayal shaped his life more than loyalty and friendship. And it all starts at school where he meets life-long friends and equally life-long enemies, and the love of his life, Palandine, who indirectly causes his fall from power and exile on DS9.

 

This part is a fascinating glimpse into Garak's history with various characters (such as Dukat, the story behind "The Wire", Tain), Cardassian society as a whole, but also into the microverse of Garak and his family. Tolan Garak, the man he believed to be his father and who turned out to be his uncle, ultimately perhaps influenced his life more than Tain and his mother Mila. Because while Tolan only belonged to the frowned-upon service class he nevertheless was more independent from outside influence than upper-class men, including who Garak comes to be. It takes years for Garak to see that.

 

The second part are diary entries between "In the Pale Moonlight" and his departure for Cardassia which relay Garak's conflict (culminating in the panic attacks) between betraying Cardassia and ultimately saving it from the Dominion together with the Federation. It highlights the growing distance between Julian and him, and the anxiety just what Cardassia he'll be able to return to. What will be left? As a side story, he meets a friend of Ziyal's who turns out to be an agent of the Khon-Ma, assigned to kill him - a woman who survived the destruction of the shuttle back on Bajor that cost her family their lives and for which she holds Garak responsible (again see "The Wire").

 

Finally, the third part is set on post-war Cardassia. Garak has returned home, a world in perpetual twilight after the Dominion tried to exterminate the population, leaving over a billion dead, a world in ruins. He turns Tain's home into a memorial, a place where people can mourn and slowly move on. And for the first time in his life he finds himself able to choose his own path, meeting old friends and enemies and determining Cardassia's future.

 

In the end, Garak comes full circle, open to new ideas because he's learned to adapt due to his ever changing surroundings. And I think Tain would turn in his grave if he saw Tolan's influence prevail over his own, resulting in Garak's interest in the Oralian Way (even if also as a means to find his love Palandine after the war - BTW, curious how the later novels don't mention her but emphasize Garak's friendships with Bashir and Parmak)... but it's gratifying to see that all of Tain's machinations, his power and loyalty plays, his treating people like pawns on a giant chess board ultimately fail.

 

A highly recommendable book - and together with "The Never-Ending Sacrifice" maybe the key to understanding the Cardassian mindset.

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