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Wednesday, November 16, 2016
2:01 pm est
The Lambs of War
Sometimes, the best way to cope with the stark realities of life is to escape into an even harsher one. But,
hopefully, one with the prospects of a brighter, better outcome. Which is exactly what I did this past week. When things fail
and are terrifyingly disappointing, I turn to books; my surest and safest refuges in times of uncertainty. Even if the one
I turned to was brutally stark and unmercifully truthful.
The Lambs of War, by Brian McManus, is a grim look into the world of Nazi Germany, circa 1943. Caught
up in the throes of war and the horrors of brutal, misguided anti-Semitism, Isaac and his wife, Flora, have been avoiding
the Nazi authorities for years. Commodore Adolf Ahrens, a respected food merchant in Bremerhaven, has them under his wing
as employees in his household until the Gestapo discovers he is harboring the young Jewish couple. He calls a former friend,
whose son is a camp officer at the Ravensbruck Labor Camp, hoping to save his charges from the upcoming “sweep”.
He makes a deal that they will be able to stay together as husband and wife. But when they arrive at the camp gates, they
are separated: Isaac to work in the household of the cruel Captain Heinrich Wurtzmeuller; Flora to join the ill-treated women
who slave in the Ravensbruck munitions and clothing factories.
And then, Flora is told that Isaac had been shot and killed the very afternoon of their arrival…
McManus is a very capable storyteller. His plot lines
are straightforward and tightly drawn, with a few clever “Surprise, I didn’t see that coming!” twists that
keep the reader on the edge of the seat. Or, in my case, up late until the wee hours of the morning eagerly wanting to know
what happens next. With a deft brush, he paints a stark picture of sadistically cruel Nazis, with their insatiable greed,
infighting, and jealousies; juxtaposing their hate with the almost pure and hopeful love that Isaac and Flora have for one
another. I was mesmerized by his intuitive insights into Isaac’s mind, as well as those of his other well-developed
characters. In addition, it is evident this author has done quite a bit of research about Germany during World War II, not
to mention capturing vivid and often lurid details of life in a forced labor camp. Even his background geography was spot
However, while the author has a distinct flair for writing, there is a distinct lack of competent
editing. Too many grammatical errors, typographical mistakes, often misused words, and more than occasional awkward phraseology
were distracting, crippling what could have otherwise been a smooth, stunningly superb read. In my own experiences as a self-published
author, one instantly loses credibility as a capable novelist when the literary standards of our profession are cast aside
for the sake of expediency.
That being said, McManus does provide us with a rude, more than realistic awakening
that overflows with action, suspense, romance, pursuit, and the ever-present persistent quest for survival. The Lambs of War is a no-holds-barred insight into what misogyny, racism, cruelty, sexism, and the lack of basic human decency and kindness
can easily foster. It is, without doubt, a rip-roaring good story that, despite its flaws, should not be missed. Nor its message
J. McInerney, the host of this Literary Blog, is
an author, poet, and librettist. Her currently published works include a novel, a book of spiritual inspirations,
volumes of poetry, stories
for children (of all ages) and
a variety of children's musicals. Her titles include:
Phoenix Hose, Hook & Ladder: A Novel of Phoenixville during World War I
Hotel: A Novel of Phoenixville during the Early 1900s
the Schuylkill Monster: A Novel of
Phoenixville in 1978
The Prisoner's Portrait: A Novel of Phoenxville during World
Rainbow in the Sky
of Oreigh Ogglefont
The Basset Chronicles.
Cats of Nine Tales
Water: A Collection of Poems
Exodus Ending: A
Collection of More Spiritual Poems
We Three Kings
Beauty and the Beast
Peter, Wolf, and Red Riding
Originally from the New York metropolitan area, June currently lives near Valley Forge Park in Pennsylvania with her constant and loving companions, FrankieBernard and Sebastian Cat. She
is currently working on her sixth novel.