Munich Signature Paperback – Apr 1 2005
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From the Back Cover
DISCOVER THE TRUTH THROUGH FICTION
Who will dare to take a stand?
In May 1938 Hitler's forces continue to swallow pieces of Europe, forcing Jews to flee from his ever-tightening net. Yet where can they go? While nations argue politics and negotiate payments, and British prime minister Neville Chamberlain accepts Hitler's signature of "peace in our time," homeless Jews bob on the open sea in "coffin ships."
After suffering through internment at Dachau and a hellish fire, Shimon Feldstein, former percussionist with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, becomes a stowaway on the SS Darien, one of the battered refugee ships. His wife, Leah, a talented cellist, undertakes a treacherous journey over the Alps to save herself and a little boy. But it seems all the harbors of the world are slammed shut against the Darien. Where can they find a place to call home?
ALSO INCLUDED: Study guides suitable for individual use or group discussion.
About the Author
BODIE AND BROCK THOENE (pronounced Tay-nee) have written over 45 works of historical fiction. That these best sellers have sold more than 10 million copies and won eight ECPA Gold Medallion Awards affirms what millions of readers have already discovered-the Thoenes are not only master stylists but experts at capturing readers' minds and hearts.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Munich Signature introduces a new and powerful character in Trudence "Bubbe" (Grandmother) Rosenfelt, a 78-year-old widow who married a Hamburg man and raised her family there. Her family in Hamburg now consists of a married granddaughter, that granddaughter's husband, and their five small daughters. Bubbe Rosenfelt will not use her U.S. citizenship to return home to Brooklyn, New York until she finds a way to get her loved ones out of Germany, and the roadblocks she encounters are only partly of German construction. American unwillingness to bend rigid quotas and other immigration rules proves far harder to overcome than Nazi unwillingness (real though it is) to let the Jews escape Hitler's plans for a final solution. There may be a way, though, Mrs. Rosenfelt learns when she persists in troubling a U.S. Embassy official. If she has enough money to pay outrageous fees for their passage, and if her family is willing to board a rusting, incredibly overcrowded freighter. Meanwhile, both the Gestapo and British Intelligence stalk Elisa, because the latter organization recognizes how useful this woman can be if compelled to serve as an operative.
Once again Bodie and Brock Thoene produce a fast-paced, emotionally stirring tale based solidly on real events. Their characters, while fictitious, feel just as real. I was particularly impressed in this book by John Murphy's gradual inner journey from cheerful disregard for the religion of his childhood to actively seeking God's help. While the book's text sometimes does lapse into preaching (which will please some readers while annoying others), there is nothing "preachy" about Murphy's transformation by God's grace. It happens naturally, in a fine example of how character development ought to be handled in any novel.
--Reviewed by Nina M. Osier, author of HIGH PLACES and 2005 EPPIE winner REGS
The story is a good read, and I appreciate how it is very history-driven, and gives good insights into the events of the time. One example is Hitler's fascination with the Franz von Stuck painting "The Wild Chase", which depicts the god Wotan, and has an uncanny likeness to Hitler. The book also details the plight of Jewish refugees who fled Germany by boat, leading to the failed Evian Conference. At times different names are used where the authors have taken some liberties with the historical facts, e.g. the SS Darien clearly refers to the SS St Louis, a ship with 908 Jewish refugees that was denied entry to Cuba and United States, although the St Louis wasn't a rust-bucket with horrible conditions like those described about the Darien in the book, but a luxury cruise liner with swimming pools, movies, and good food. A proposed plan by some in the German military to overthrow Hitler (because they believed going to war with Czechoslovakia was a suicidal military move) is also well featured in the story-line, even though it doesn't use the actual name of the key person behind the Oster Conspiracy of 1938.
But at times I couldn't help but wonder if the authors at times took too many liberties with the facts. For instance, does the mass conversion of 729 Jews to Christianity on one day (p.382) have any historical basis? In another example, the story describes a failed assassination attempt on the Czech President Benes which didn't actually happen. That I can live with - it's fiction after all - but a more serious issue is how the paganism of the Nazis is presented. While Nazi brutality is generally handled tactfully, at times the authors suggest a dark side that can't easily be corroborated with the historical record. For example, a state funeral given to a Nazi is described as follows: "in pagan ritual, his right arm was cut off, and at the hour of midnight, it was offered up to the German gods on a burning altar" (p159), but I've not been able to find any evidence of such things ever happening. In another instance, they describe young Nazis singing a song of praise to Hitler as an Aryan god (p296), but in actuality this particular song is from an Allied propaganda film (Prelude to War), and is based on a questionable source (Gregor Ziemer) rather than historical fact.
But it's not only the Nazis who aren't always depicted objectively. The authors are also very critical and even hostile towards British PM Chamberlain's policy of appeasement. In reality Chamberlain's critics were quite few, Churchill often being a lone voice in the pre-war period. At the time of the Munich Agreement Chamberlain was widely hailed as the "saviour of Europe", some European voices even suggesting he receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and the Egyptian PM sending him a telegram of thanks that read: "Your name will go down in history as a statesman who saved civilisation from destruction." From the perspective of hindsight it is easier to see how Chamberlain's policy failed, but it wasn't obvious to everyone at the time, and even some historians still defend his approach. It is important for readers to realize that like all historians, the Thoenes are subjective in their interpretation of history, and not all historians are as unsympathetic or sharply critical towards Chamberlain as they are. As such, it is a stretch to say that this novel is "historically accurate" - it not only takes some liberty with the facts, but also presents a very one-sided viewpoint of historical events, and it offers a perspective that not all historians would agree with. That being said, this won't be a big issue for most people, myself included, although the above examples do make it harder to trust the authors, because what many readers will take to be historical fact as presented in this book isn't always quite the case.
As for the rest of the novel, by and large the storyline is fairly compelling and makes for exciting reading. There are some implausible events (e.g. one of the main protagonists has a personal meeting with Churchill; and another protagonist is the unlikely survivor of an explosion and then goes on to be the only one who survives the sinking of a ship), but that's fiction for you - these things happen in books. Also be aware that there is some adult-only content; while it's not explicit, there are some descriptions of intimacy between a married couple that are only suitable for mature readers and not younger children.
Overall, "Munich Signature" is a great read that helps kindle an interest in this historical period. I look forward to reading the rest of the Zion Covenant series, and I commend the authors for contributing some great and thoughtful fiction that helps bring to life an important part of history that we should not forget. - GODLY GADFLY (February 2016)
This book in particular radiates the message that the power of music can, indeed, carry us through the worst of times. It's tragic and heartbreaking yet makes us want to cheer all at the same time. I'm reading this one right now, and even though I already know what's going to happen I'm still waiting eagerly to go through it all again with the main characters.
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