• Review
By – March 5, 2012
The time set­ting of 1940, Neugeboren’s new nov­el, enables him to car­ry his intrigu­ing nar­ra­tive from a rel­a­tive­ly tran­quil era turn­ing stormy, into a pro­ject­ed future of calami­tous upheaval for human­i­ty. 1940 is a momen­tous year in the long range plans that Adolf Hitler, who has recent­ly annexed Aus­tria to form a unit­ed Ger­many, is imple­ment­ing for his world takeover, while mak­ing his Deutsch­land Juden­rein. The novel’s main focus is the roman­tic attach­ment formed in Decem­ber, 1940 between an Aus­tri­an physi­cian, Dr. Eduard Bloch, an emi­gré now liv­ing in the Bronx, and a divor­cée, Elis­a­beth Rof­man, a gift­ed illus­tra­tor of human anato­my, clear­ly des­tined for suc­cess. Her (and there­fore her new beau’s) prob­lem is her insti­tu­tion­al­ized son, Daniel, a vic­tim of an out of the ordi­nary sit­u­a­tion. But a major irony under­lies the story’s plot. This con­cerns Dr. Bloch’s ear­ly life in Vien­na. He had been the young Adolf Hitler’s per­son­al physi­cian, and had served the boy’s crit­i­cal­ly ill moth­er as well. As a result, Bloch alone among the vast num­ber of Jews seek­ing to escape was offi­cial­ly per­mit­ted to leave the uni­fied Ger­many after the adult” Hitler closed the gates on them. Thus Bloch may incur new prob­lems. This well writ­ten, dou­ble vision” nov­el mer­its a wide, appre­cia­tive audience.
Samuel I. Bell­man is pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus at Cal­i­for­nia State Poly­tech­nic Uni­ver­si­ty of Pomona. He has been writ­ing on Jew­ish Amer­i­can writ­ers since 1959.

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