Eichman Before Jeruslem: The Unexamined Life ofa Mass Murderer / Bettina Stangneth / Translated from the German by Ruth Martin / Alfred A. Knopf / 2014, pp. 579, $35
The Last Laugh: “Graphic Details: Jewish Women’s Confessional Comics in Essays and Interviews” Reviewed
Full disclosure: I am not a biblical or Talmudic scholar. As a professor of literature, I have taught selections from the Bible in humanities courses. I think of myself as a secular humanist and an agnostic interested in understanding the role of religion in the lives of millions of people.
French anti-Semitism, c’est une vieille histoire. True, following the Revolution, les Juifs were liberated from their ghettos. True, the Jewish Leon Blum was elected prime minister of France during the late 1930s. And true, except for the United States and Israel, no other country contains so many Jews—some 600,000 according to the latest statistics.
Be wary of historical fiction, especially if it’s good. It will forever mix up in your mind what actually happened, or what we can be fairly certain happened, with the inventions of playwrights and novelists, whose aim might be to draw a deeper meaning from events than mere facts can provide, but who do some violence to those puny facts.
This thriller about the Israeli-Arab conflict comes with rare praise from one of the masters of suspense fiction and with a premise that suggests exploration of deep moral dilemmas. The endorsement comes from Stephen King, who says the book is “about the lies we tell ourselves until the truth is forced upon us,” and is “what great fiction is all about.”