My second review of the day is on the blog tour for Champion by Stephen Deutsch, a WW2 Historical Fiction Novel based on real characters and their stories…..
book blurb & Info
Dark haired, slight, with deep-set haunted eyes, Herschel Grynszpan is an undocumented Jewish alien living in Paris. He receives a postcard from his parents – recently bundled from their Hanover flat, put on a train and dumped, with 12,000 others on the Polish border. Enraged, Herschel buys a gun and kills a minor German official in the German Embassy. The repercussions trigger Kristalnacht, the nationwide pogrom against the Jews in Germany and Austria, a calamity which some have called the opening act of the Holocaust.
Intertwined is the parallel life of the German boxer, Max Schmeling, who as a result of his victory over the then ‘invincible’ Joe Louis in 1936 became the poster boy of the Nazis. He and his movie-star wife, Anny Ondra, were feted by the regime – tea with Hitler, a passage on the airship Hindenburg – until his brutal two-minute beating in the rematch with Louis less than two years later. His story reaches a climax during Kristalnacht, where the champion performs an act of quiet heroism.
Published by: Universe on 1st July 2020
Formats available: Paperback & eBook
Champion tells the story of two real life characters, Max Schmeling and Herschel Grynszpan. Max is a famous boxer and after a victory becomes the poster boy for Nazi Germany. Under pressure to replace his Jewish manager, Max has stand his ground. And then when Kristalnacht begins, he’s able to help out a friend in a dangerous, but unexpected way.
Herschel is just a normal Jewish boy in Germany. Getting into trouble at school, him and his family try to work out what he should do. But with the threat of Hitler looming, he decides to make a move that could save his family. But his behaviour proves otherwise and he ends up moving to Paris as an illegal immigrant. Staying in touch with his family, he receives a postcard that sets him on a downward spiral, and he ends up murdering a minor German official. He’s taken to prison in France but his trial takes a long time, and when the Germans move into France, he must make some life changing decisions….
I really enjoyed this story, although as can be expected of a WW2 novel about the Jewish population there are many sad bits. Following the two different stories is interesting; as we get to see the war, Hitler and the Nazi’s from two different viewpoints. The fact that the characters are all real people made it come alive more, and the author explains at the end where he’s made fictional changes or assumptions.
The book has definitely made me want to look into the story of Herschel more; especially as it’s said that what he did may have been the beginning of the Holocaust. The racism and anti-semitism at the time isn’t surprising, but it’s still quite shocking reading about it and the viewpoints people are likely to have had.
Max’s act for his friend is heartwarming, especially as he could be putting himself and everything he had worked for in danger. He appears to be a good man, and I’m sure the use of his face as propaganda didn’t help his case at the time, and didn’t allow him the chance to show his own beliefs.
The story of Herschel and his family is sad and heartbreaking, especially because the things that happened were only too real for the Jewish people of the time. I enjoyed the fact that we got to not only follow Herschel, but his family too and were able to see where they ended up and what becomes of them.
This is a moving and interesting novel, and I appreciated the real update on the characters at the end of the book. If you enjoy reading WW2 fiction and history, then this is a brilliant book to read. It will most definitely open your eyes more and make you want to look into the characters more. Recommended by me.
about the author
Stephen Deutsch was born in New York and moved tothe UK in 1970, becoming a naturalised citizen in 1978. He was trained as apianist and composer, spending the first part of his career composing music forconcert hall, theatre, television and film. He has been a lecturer in filmsound and music, and has edited a journal on that subject, The Soundtrack, and later TheNew Soundtrack. His first novel, Zweck, a historical comedy about music, was published in 2016. He is the co-author of a coming book Listening to the Film: A Practical Philosophy of Film Sound. He has written plays for television,broadcast on the BBC. For 25 years he composed the music for all stage, film and TV works of the playwright Peter Barnes.
tour hosted by
Many thanks Bookollective for inviting me on to the tour, and to Stephen and Unicorn Publishing for providing me with a copy of the book. All views and opinions are my own.
I’ll be back shortly with my final review of the day!
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