Saturday, October 01, 2005

A Break in the Storm - Arnold Simon

Hindsight is 20/20.

If you ask most any American what they though of Adolf Hitler, they will possibly refer to him as evil, as a murderer, crazy and some would even refer to him as “The Anti-Christ”. In my opinion, all of these are adequate and I could add more, however, my feelings were manifested because ‘hindsight is 20/20’. But what if I had been born German? What if I had been living as a teenager in Germany during 1936? Would my opinion of Adolf Hitler be as concrete as it is now?

Author, Arnold Simon, tackles this subject brilliantly in his novel, “A Break in the Storm”. Simon magnificently paints for the reader a clear, 1936, German vision through the eyes of the lead character Erich Behrndt and others.

Behrndt is an enthusiastic and idealistic young German whose father died in World War I. He later watched his mother work herself to death to afford him an education and a better life in their homeland. Behrndt feels he has found the potential for his life when he is taken to hear a powerful and charismatic, German leader. The leader was Adolf Hitler.

Behrndt is seduced by the promise of making his country strong again. He is drawn in by the promise of restoring pride and glory to his country. Behrndt is hooked by the idea that he will have the opportunity to “make his father proud”. He eagerly joins Hitler’s movement, not realizing that his idealism, sought through a Nazi government, would come with an expensive price tag.

Simon uses colorful (yet realistic) characters to adequately express (what I consider) the different ideals of a struggling social climate whose ultimate future, in our hindsight, is predestined. Nevertheless, through the interaction of these characters, Simon demonstrates how close the world came to avoiding World War II.

Simon’s accounts are so clear and precise, you might wonder if it is truly ‘fiction’. This book lends human emotion to an era most of us only read about in textbooks. Arnold Simon delivers unparalleled social, political and historical fiction in “A Break in the Storm”. I recommend it to everyone that enjoys history and pays respect to the WWII generation.

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