Monday, October 4, 2010
Prodigal Sons by Sheldon Greene
This fictional yet riveting novel with World War II as the backdrop was a page turning read. The main themes of hope, love, pain, anger, violence, rage, despair, and reconciliation flow heavily into each paragraph leaving the reader yearning for more. This story occurs at a time that caused pain to many while at the same time forcing them to lose their identities. Although it occurred many years ago, the pain is freshly etched in the minds of those who lived through it personally or vicariously through stories of their families being torn apart.
Horst Vogle was Jewish and raised in Poland at the outbreak of the war. He came from a professional family--his father was a doctor and his mom was a nurse. They were extremely respected by others in their town. The main character, Horst Vogle, is stuck with the task of reinventing himself after the war. Prior to World War II, his name was Jan Goldberg. Jan's sister and parents were taken away by the Nazi's and killed at a concentration camp. After the war he emigrated to Palestine with a group of others. He was hired by the Israeli Secret Service to find and kill those Nazi officials who were able to escape the punishment for their crimes. He changed his identity from Jan Godlberg to that of Horst Vogle. That is when Jan's journey as Horst Vogle begins.
On his quest to find these men and kill them, he comes across a woman named Greta. She, a pianist, only knows him as a museum curator not as a vengeful man hunting Nazi's. In the midst of everything, he falls in love with Greta and is forced to balance attending her performances with his job as a killer. As time goes by, he is forced to look at himself in the mirror and figure out his true purpose--is he merely a killer seeking revenge for the wrongdoings to innocent people (including his family) or is he a part of the new Germany being developed? He didn't have an answer readily at hand.
The story is vivid and full of emotions stemming from a horrific time in our history. It shares the intimate details of the lives lost and found through the eyes of a man who lost his family and himself. It pulls on the heartstrings, make you angry and vengeful, and brings you comfort at times. This is a great book by Mr. Greene! If you are a history buff, this is the book for you.