Archive for the ‘*** Uncategorized’ Category
Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 8, 2017
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 18, 2017
What readers say about A FLOOD OF EVIL …
… Very few writers can successfully write historical fiction as compellingly as Lewis M. Weinstein.
… This is one of the best books I have ever read! It is historical fiction of the highest order.
… Weinstein brings the rhetoric of hatred, fear and abuse of power of the Hitler Regime to life in the personal love story of two young people.
… The characters are so realistic it is easy for the reader to become involved in their lives.
… There is literally never a dull moment in the book.
… The author’s research on so many levels was mind boggling.
… His style of writing draws you in to the room and you feel sometimes like you are another character in the corner.
… a powerful and complex story about love, fear and the corrosive abuse of political power
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 16, 2017
My questions to Kindle Support services …
1. I did not find any guideline that mentions swastikas … did I miss this guideline?
2. What happened in October 2016 (.de site) and in March 2017 (.com site) to cause my book to be suppressed after it had been approved in June 2016? Somebody decided to take action. Why?
Kindle Support services response
We take violations of laws and proprietary rights very seriously. It is your responsibility to ensure that your content doesn’t violate laws or copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity, or other rights. Just because content is freely available does not mean you are free to copy and sell it. In accordance with German law, we cannot publish content that displays swastikas. I’m so sorry, but we can’t offer any additional insight or action on this matter.
Several days ago, I changed the cover to remove the swastika, and AFOE was restored to both the German and US sites.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 14, 2017
BANNED IN GERMANY …
From early October 2016 to mid-March 2017, A FLOOD OF EVIL was “suppressed” in Germany, unavailable for purchase. I was never notified that my book was no longer for sale in Germany. When I found out, by accident, Amazon refused to say why the book was suppressed, and also refused to say what prompted the suppression. After several days of fruitless back and forth, I changed the cover to remove a small swastika and the ban was lifted.
A FLOOD OF EVIL tells the story of German Catholic boy from Munich who becomes a Nazi and a Jewish girl from the Polish shtetl of Ciechanow who becomes an internationally known journalist. Improbably, they fall in love and join forces to try to stop the rise of Hitler. The story covers the years 1923-1933, and a sequel set against the events of 1934-1945 is currently being written.
On the original cover of AFOE, the Nazi/Jewish theme was illustrated graphically by a small swastika next to the boy and a small Jewish star next to the girl. These symbols have now (I hope temporarily) been removed. I am still trying to find someone in amazon management who will recognize and deal with what I regard as the extremely shoddy way I was treated.
NOTE: this description is now “live” at Goodreads but not yet at Amazon
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 13, 2017
I will be calling amazon and will try to raise the behavior of some of their people to an appropriate management level review. The people I was able to talk with, on the phone or by email, were uniformly understanding and sympathetic, but somewhere behind them, unreachable to me, were people who made decisions they do not want looked at too closely, which is why they have refused to answer my questions.
But I will continue to look, and if I can get amazon management to also look, I think they will be appalled.
Btw, I am a real amazon fan. Amazon has helped me publish and sell my books, and I am also a very happy prime customer for a wide variety of products. What these few amazon employees did to me is not typical of the company, and I feel certain that, at the end of the day, amazon management will do what’s right.
* amazon refuses to provide answers as to why AFOE was “suppressed” on German and US sites … they should be ashamed
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 13, 2017
Received from amazon today …
I’m unable to provide specific information about the suppressions. The only information I’ve received from the Content Validation’s team is the one related to the swastika as the suppression reasons for October and March for the paperback.
Regarding the Kindle edition, I’m unable to get information from them about any suppression. In terms of the Content Guidelines, we have them in our site: https://www.createspace.com/Help/Rights/ContentGuidelines.jsp. However, we are unable to provide specific information about the possible rejections if you have questions, you can reach the Content Validation team for this.
I understand about the notifications and I’ve submitted feedback about it. I’m unable to get more information as to why it wasn’t sent.
My response …
I appreciate your efforts but you must realize that your answers are both inadequate and insulting. You suppressed my new novel for months and you provide no reasons or explanation. I think amazon should be ashamed. I will take this further.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 13, 2017
Posted to Jewish Historical Fiction site … https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/6449-jewish-historical-fiction …
My historical novel A Flood of Evil was BANNED IN GERMANY from early October until yesterday.
Amazon apparently made that decision based on the small swastika on the cover, since removed. (NOTE: my novel is surely not pro-Nazi; quite the opposite.)
Amazon never notified me that my book was removed from their site. I found out by accident when checking the amazon.de site in preparation for an upcoming book club meeting in Germany (via SKYPE).
The Amazon guidelines are not clear. There is no explicit guideline regarding swastikas. There are other books on Amazon’s German site which display swastikas.
Needless to say, I am furious with Amazon for the inconsiderate and discriminatory way they treated me and for the damage they caused me. Among other things, it was impossible to speak directly with the Contents people who made the decision to ban my book, which made resolution doubly difficult.
I would like to know if anyone knows of similar treatment of other books.
* AFOE is up on Amazon’s German site (and all other Amazon sites), in both print and kindle versions
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 12, 2017
Finally! Now all I want to know is why this happened and why I was never notified by Amazon.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 11, 2017
Hoping to be on German site later today.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 10, 2017
It appears the the only issue was the swastika on the cover. I have submitted a revised cover (see above) and expect that AFOE will be restored to all amazon sites in another day or so.
Remaining issues to be resolved with Amazon …
Why was I not notified in early October when AFOE was “suppressed” from amazon.de?
Why was AFOE “suppressed” from amazon.com on March 8, again without any notification?
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 9, 2017
AFOE UPDATE …
Amazon Kindle Support has answered regarding the withdrawal of AFOE from Germany, stating that it was the swastika. I will now change the cover.
I have also submitted a revised cover for the print edition to Create Space Support, although they have yet to answer any of my questions.
*AFOE in print format is still banned from all Amazon sites; it is also banned in kindle format from Amazon’s German site
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 9, 2017
There are four unanswered questions before Amazon Create Space …
Is the swastika on the cover the only reason for the suppression?
Would be acceptable to upload a new cover with the swastika removed under the same title ID and ISBN?
Is the Jewish star with the inscription “jude” allowed?
Why was the book removed from Amazon.com as well?”
A separate question has been sent to Amazon Kindle Support …
5. Why has AFOE been removed from the amazon.de (the Amazon German site)?
A FLOOD OF EVIL is available in both print and NOOK versions from Barnes & Noble …
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 8, 2017
an email from Amazon Create Space customer service …
Per our conversation, I am submitting your request with my call notes to our content team asking the following:
– If the swastika is the only reason for the suppression
– If it would be acceptable to upload a new cover with the swastika removed under the same title ID and ISBN
– If the Jewish star with the inscription “jude” is allowed
You should be hearing back from this team within the next one to two business days with their response.
In the meantime, please do try to have a better day.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 8, 2017
The print edition of A FLOOD OF EVIL has subsequently been removed from all Amazon sites, although it is still available in kindle format.
AFOE is still available, in both print and NOOK formats, on Barnes & Noble at …
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 8, 2017
I have been having discussions regarding a possible book club appearance to be arranged in Germany, in the course of which I checked amazon.de, amazon’s German web site. I was shocked to find that A FLOOD OF EVIL was not listed.
Upon inquiry, I received an email from Amazon which stated that AFOE had been “suppressed” in Germany. Subsequent correspondence with Amazon yielded the following explanation: “During the review process, your work was found to contain material, which may include cover image, title and/or product descriptions or interior content, that is in violation of CreateSpace content guidelines for Germany and may infringe German law.”
That was it. No details. No indication of what content was objectionable. No statement of what guideline was violated.
It should be noted that the entire book, including the cover, had been approved by Amazon when it was submitted. No one said anything was objectionable. AFOE was initially available on all Amazon sites, including in Germany. I don’t know exactly when it was removed. No one ever had the courtesy to tell me when it was removed.
Obviously, I am furious and trying to deal with Amazon to get this situation resolved.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 16, 2017
“A Flood of Evil” by Lewis M. Weinstein is well written and meticulously researched. Weinstein has a writing style that draws the reader into the scene. This is a complex story about the organized systematic hatred of one group of people. Weinstein brings the rhetoric of hatred, fear and abuse of power of the Hitler Regime to life in the personal story of two people. The characters are so realistic it is easy for the reader to become involved in their lives. I am impressed with Weinstein’s writing skills.
A FLOOD OF EVIL is available on amazon in print and kindle formats …
Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 8, 2017
Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 26, 2017
Book club meetings by SKYPE are a great way to have exciting meetings when distances do not permit my personal attendance. It has proven quite simple to make the arrangements. At the club site, the video can be projected onto a TV screen.
If this sounds interesting to you, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss a schedule and arrangements.
A FLOOD OF EVIL is available
in print and kindle formats at amazon …
Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 20, 2017
“We have all heard the story of the rise of the Third Reich, but have we understood it through the lives, the feelings, the passions, the fears of individual people? So often we are told about movements, but those movements were made up of people, people with their own struggles of identity, ambition, love …. all placed in one of the most traumatic times in recent history. Come, look through their eyes, feel their own emotions, question what is happening, and ponder if this is fiction or fact.”
you can purchase A FLOOD OF EVIL
in paper or kindle format …
Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 18, 2017
Mark the date … hope to see you there …
Feb 23 at 10:00am (coffee at 9:30) at the Key West Library … Cafe con Libros program.
I will be speaking about my recently published historical novel A FLOOD OF EVIL, and also about my progress with a sequel.
You can read about A FLOOD OF EVIL, and also see reader comments, at amazon.com …
Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 12, 2017
The first section (145 pages) of the sequel to my historical novel A FLOOD OF EVIL is now completed in draft form. This section continues the love story of Anna Gorska and Berthold Becker in the years immediately after Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany.
Anna and Berthold face difficult decisions about how they can help those who should be opposing Hitler, and whether two young people can indeed do anything meaningful in that regard.
The main historical event which forms the background to their story in this draft section is the 200+ murders Hitler ordered to purge his enemies from within the Nazi party, known to history as the Night of the Long Knives.
I am looking for a few EARLY READERS who will agree to cast a critical eye on what I have written and help me improve it. If you’re interested, please write to me at email@example.com.
Meanwhile, this is a good time to read A FLOOD OF EVIL which tells the story of Anna and Berthold from 1923 to 1933. A FLOOD OF EVIL is available in paper and kindle formats on amazon …
Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 9, 2017
All available on amazon in paper and kindle formats …
Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 25, 2016
Looking for an exciting read for the new year … a book you can both savor and learn from … here are extracts from reader comments about THE HERETIC … (please forgive me, but I love to read these comments every once in a while)
a thrilling and superbly told story
well paced and full of action; vivid characterization; makes you think.
the kind of narrative one savors rather than devours in a single sitting
beautifully written and it is obviously carefully and thoroughly researched
very well written, exhaustively researched and historically accurate
a vivid presentation of people living in a dramatically changing society
a touching well written book
explores the tenacity and resourcefulness of the Jewish people
presents a passion for beliefs that transcends unspeakable cruelties … inspirational
will pull at your heartstrings
a very well-written, historically and culturally intriguing novel
couldn’t put the book down
reminds me why I love historical fiction
a book which will open your eyes and broaden your knowledge
I loved the deep loving marriages
descriptions of characters, costumes, scenery, landscapes and religious traditions made this book come alive for me
moved me so deeply … the Catalan family now lives in my heart.
available on amazon in paper & kindle formats
* Lew’s review of “The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Secret Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine” by Edwin Black … research for the sequel to the recently published “A FLOOD OF EVIL”
Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 13, 2016
Edwin Black tells a piece of history which is not well known, perhaps purposely kept from public view because it is so embarrassing to the participants.
In 1933, the worldwide Jewish community began a protest versus the antisemitic Nazis who had just come to power by organizing a huge and successful boycott versus German goods. This action inflicted severe damage on the German economy and threatened to create so much chaos that the Hitler government was expected by many to fall before winter.
However, a group of Zionist leaders (but far from all Zionists) undermined the boycott in order to carry out a Transfer Agreement with the Nazis that allowed some wealthy Germans to emigrate to Palestine with some portion of their wealth. Working against the boycott was part of that deal. The motivations of these Zionists varied from a fervent desire to bolster Palestine’s chances to survive to personal financial gain. The motivations of the Nazis were clear. Terrified by the prospects of the boycott to destroy the German economy, they made a deal with Jews they had sworn never to accommodate.
In addition to the economic impact of the boycott, it served as a focal point of moral outrage against the Nazis that evoked worldwide sympathy among Jews and Christians alike. Had it continued, that moral outrage might have become even more important than the economic devastation it caused the Nazis.
Rabbi Stephen Wise, the most important American Jewish leader of the time, spoke for the boycott but in the end failed to support it. Wise’s motivations were never clear, since he worked hard to keep his actions hidden, but my reading of Black’s detailed presentation is that Wise was far more interested in his personal power and prestige than he was in bringing down Hitler. Wise said he supported the boycott but when the moment came, he did not; it is this duplicity which I find far more disgusting than his decision.
Without Wise’s support, the boycott failed, the western countries (US, Britain & France) failed to effectively oppose Hitler, and the worst demagogue in history stayed in power. While nobody in 1933 could have predicted the Holocaust, in the end the result was that 60,000 Germans got to Palestine via the Transfer Agreement, 3,000,000 Jews were murdered, and 60,000,000 lives were lost as a result of Hitler’s aggressive wars.
In hindsight, my conclusion is that the decision to favor the Transfer Agreement over the boycott was a horrible one. At the time, the decision was excruciatingly difficult, and I hope I am able to show those difficulties by having my characters struggle with it in the sequel to A FLOOD OF EVIL.
A FLOOD OF EVIL
is available in paper and kindle formats on amazon
TWO RECENT REVIEWS OF A FLOOD OF EVIL ON AMAZON
***** By KarynH on November 2, 2016 … Lew’s style of writing in this book plays in one’s mind like a series of vignettes, which I think works quite well for the story. It moves you back and forth through time, revealing bits here and pieces there, and for me it was like watching a movie. There’s enough historical and geographical accuracy for the book to feel like a story told by actual people who lived through the experiences. By the end, I felt as though I had watched a puzzle come together, piece by piece.
***** By Amazon Customer on November 19, 2016 … We have all heard the story of the rise of the Third Reich, but have we understood it through the lives, the feelings, the passions, the fears of individual people? So often we are told about movements, but those movements were made up of people, people with their own struggles of identity, ambition, love …. all placed in one of the most traumatic times in recent history. Come, look through their eyes, feel their own emotions, question what is happening, and ponder if this is fiction or fact.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 4, 2016
I found myself not wanting to put the book down.
The theme of the book feels like it was taken right out of today’s headlines. Joshua Blake has graduated university and will be starting law school in the fall. He has come to Manhattan to work in a law firm for the summer. Suddenly Joshua finds himself arrested, convicted and in Sing Sing all for a crime he did not commit nor was he near the area of the crime. We follow “Team Blake” as they try to prove Joshua innocent.
The book is well written and researched.
I began to hate the pompous ADA Claiborne. Weinstein can create a great bad guy. The character development is excellent and the plot development is good. The pace is fast but did slow down a bit in the middle of the book. The ending left me feeling good. The book is 400 pages long. I read this as an e-book from Amazon.
AVAILABLE IN PAPER & KINDLE AT AMAZON
Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 4, 2016
5 ***** from Marty Fried … posted Sept 13, 2016
I’ve always been interested in the how and why of the Nazi rise to power. There are plenty of stories about the holocaust, the evils of the Nazis, the torture, etc.
This book, though, is different. It told about how it got started, and what it was like for the people living in the middle of it all during the early days. And that’s what I liked about the story.
It starts out with the trial of a Nazi who is facing death for his part in the atrocities. Just another evil Nazi who deserves to die, it seems. But his death is averted by the testimony of a Jewish woman whose family was all killed by the Nazis, and she herself was forced to prostitute herself to the Germans to survive death. Yet she pleaded for his life, and he was
The book is about why she did this.
It’s a love story about a brave couple who did all they could to try to stop Hitler’s rise to power.
I went back and reread the prologue after finishing the book and found it to be much more meaningful and emotional after knowing the full story. Now, I’m waiting for Book Two, to see what happens during the actual war.
5 ***** from Ann Marie (posted Jul 14, 2016)
In A Flood of Evil, Lewis Weinstein has written a novel that is both compelling and riveting.
The love, strength and courage between Anna, the Jewish journalist and Berthold, the German boy which takes place during the rise to power of Adolph Hitler, is a real page turner. The mix of historical facts and realistic characters makes this a must read book. The author skillfully makes you able to believe that history is most certainly able to repeat itself.
Can’t wait for Part 2!! (NOTE: the sequel, as yet untitled, is well underway.)
5***** from Peggy Hart (posted Oct 12, 2016)
I learned so much history from this book. Can not wait for book two! For those waiting for book two, if you have not read “The Heretic” it is excellent!!!!
5***** from Peter Jowers (posted Jul 11, 2016)
Lloyd summed it up very well. I think it is a very good introduction to what must have existed: opposition to Hitler in his rise to power and during the war possible underground resistance, some of which is well known. I look to Part 2 coming out.
5 ***** from Judie (posted Oct 20, 2016)
The title, A FLOOD OF EVIL, refers to what would happen to the world if Adolf Hitler ever achieved power.
In 1946, Nazis were tried in Nuremberg. As the story begins, one young man, Berthold Becker, is the defendant who is eligible for the death sentence because of his Nazi activities. He has admitted his guilt, but before the prosecutor, Abraham Weintraub, completes his presentation, a Jewish woman, Anna Gorska, testifies that Becker should not be put to death. She told the court, “Bertold Becker, although a Nazi, did more than any of the great Allied nations to save Jewish lives. Many lives, not just mine. That is reason enough to spare his life.”
5 ***** from Ilene (posted Oct 14, 2016)
Lew Weinstein is a master at Historical Fiction. His description of the lead up to Hitler’s Germany is eerily similar to what we are seeing in this year’s presidential election. People then asked “how could Hitler rise to power”? Well, we’re living it, but I digress. The story is more than just a story of Hitler’s Germany – it is also a story of two unlikely lovers and the readers gets to learn how this relationship blossomed. Can’t wait for Vol. 2!
AVAILABLE FROM AMAZON IN PAPER & KINDLE
a 5***** review of A FLOOD OF EVIL by Lloyd Liggett … posted on Goodreads Jul 7, 2016 … thank you Lloyd
Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 4, 2016
This is one of the best books I have ever read!
It is “historical fiction” of the highest order, and a thoroughly engrossing story of the beginning relationship between a young German man and a young Polish-Jewish woman against the backdrop of Hitler’s appearance and rise to power as The Feuhrer.
While it follows his rise, it also, gives us an insight into why he had such appeal to the German People, and his horrific hatred of the Jews; the inability of The Church or of neighboring nations to take a more active approach to recognize, or deal with the growing menace Hitler’s Germany was becoming.
On the fictional side, it shows how this young German man and this young Polish-Jewish woman are drawn into the maelstrom of WW II. At the end of which he is being tried as a German “war criminal” and she is the sole survivor of her family’s ordeal at the Auschwitz “death camp”.
This is Book 1 of Mr Weinstein’s proposed 2 book series. Book 2 will cover from the “start” of The War until the “war trials” afterward. I am, eagerly, awaiting Book 2 to discover “the rest of the story”. (NOTE: the sequel, as yet untitled, is well underway.)
A really wonderful read! My comments can not do justice to it!
AVAILABLE ON AMAZON IN PAPER & KINDLE
a 4**** review of THE HERETIC by David Lowther … (posted on Goodreads on Apr 19, 2015) … thank you David
Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 4, 2016
I approached The Heretic with a small amount of trepidation because, as a gentile, I wasn’t certain that I would follow the passages of the explanation of the Jewish faith which I knew to be contained in the book.
In the event I needn’t have been concerned at all. Yes there was much of what I expected but all of this was wrapped around a thrilling and superbly told story and added strength to what Lewis Weinstein was trying to achieve; to give readers a complete understanding of how and why the Jews were treated so appallingly in fifteenth century Spain.
The character descriptions are stunning, location is convincingly described and the action sequences exciting. I loved the hero and hated the villain but this is no knight in shining armour story. The inquisitors are seriously evil and misguided and any claim made that they can justify doing what they did in the name of the Catholic church is complete nonsense.
Small wonder that Pole John Paul II apologised, amongst other things, for the murderous Inquisition and the centuries long persecution of the Jewish people. This feels, frankly, grossly inadequate.
Woven into this terrific tale are real life people like Johannes Gutenberg of the printing press fame and Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile whose marriage led to the unification of Spain in the 16th. century.
I’ve always believed that the hatred of Jews was motivated by them being held responsible for the death of Christ and by envy of their skills and talents which have enriched the history of our planet. That much is confirmed in The Heretic. The holocaust, however, can only be perhaps partly explained by this. Hitler’s detestation of non Aryan racial groups is maybe a stronger motivation for the Nazis. The Fuhrer did, after all, persecute the Christian churches though not, of course, with such vehemence.
The Heretic is a very fine book indeed.
Author of The Blue Pencil and Liberating Belsen
AVAILABLE ON AMAZON IN PAPER & KINDLE
Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 4, 2016
This historical novel is well-researched and the story is captivating, although difficult to read in places because of the terrible violence perpetrated against Jews and forcibly baptized Christians (and their descendants) suspected of “reverting” to Judaism in medieval Spain. The author captures well the dangers in the lives of these conversos and, for those who wish to live as Jews, the risks they ran to practice their faith and be true to their heritage.
All of this is in the context of the lives of the Catalan family and their associates, for whom I came to care. How tragic that so many people were persecuted for their beliefs based on false and perverted doctrines, when the value of every human being as a child of God and the importance of agency and freedom of conscience are fundamental to God’s true plan of salvation.
The author waxes didactic in places (as I just did), trying to get the details of the various points of view into the record, but that did not mar the book for me–it was fascinating, if deeply disappointing at times, to learn the positions of those who, as Milton wrote in Areopagitica, use the means of “a false and bloody superstition” to protect what is supposed to be a loving and agency-respecting truth.
The book ended too soon for me–I would have liked to see what happened to later generations of the Catalan family–so this is perhaps a call for a sequel. (NOTE: there is a sequel, titled THE POPE’S CONSPIRACY.) For readers who wish to know more about the position of Jews in medieval Spain and get good mystery stories into the bargain, I also recommend Caroline Roe’s “Isaac of Girona” series.
Congratulations to Lewis Weinstein on a job well done, and some truly impressive support for The Heretic from notable people such as Elie Wiesel and Cardinal O’Connor, among others.
AVAILABLE AT AMAZON in PAPER & KINDLE
Posted by Lew Weinstein on November 19, 2016
I have made it a point to thank all Goodreads readers who have commented on or liked my reviews. But three weeks ago I suffered a massive heart attack and, although I am recovering nicely, I have fallen far behind on my thank-you’s and I don’t believe I will have time to catch up, although I appreciate your comments just as much. Please forgive me. I will try to stay current with new reader responses to my reviews.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on October 2, 2016
By A. Ferguson …
Very few writers can successfully write historical fiction as compellingly as Lewis M. Weinstein. I first discovered his talent when I read his 2000 novel, THE HERETIC. Through his ability to imagine the past as it might have been allows present day readers to delve into history with such a interest that they begin to see how the past draws our attention while demanding us to understand.
A couple of years ago, I was kindly given the opportunity by Lewis to be an early reader of his latest work, A FLOOD OF EVIL. As in the past when reading Lewis’ work, I became lost in the story. In this first book of a two book series, we follow the story of a German Catholic boy by the name of Berthold Becker and a Polish Jewish girl by the name of Anna Gorska as they find themselves in the midst of a world ruled by bigotry, fear, and hatred. This is Hitler’s world, a world that forces Berthold and Anna to unimaginable levels of fear and, in turn, courage.
With his latest novel, Mr. Weinstein is at his best when he challenges readers to look into the face of evil; to look into the depths of abject degradation — for in this he is fearless. It is not lost on me, as I hope it won’t be lost on present day readers that the rhetoric of hate and fear that was stirred up by Hitler could just as easily be seen in some of the rhetoric of one of the politicians running for President today.
It would be too easy for us to look away or to minimize the talk of would-be leaders when they speak to our fears in an attempt to organize a systematic hatred of any one group of people. To downplay as the world did during the years that led up to WWII would be foolish and disrespectful to our collective past. Indeed, when Hitler first arrived on the stage of politics, were there not people who minimized as well? By the time the world took note of the danger of having allowed a man of such vitriolic hatred such a platform, it was too late. Here is where Lewis’ novel takes root.
A FLOOD OF EVIL is a cautionary tale that warns against such ignorance and hate. Yes, it was indeed left to the real life versions of characters like Berthold and Anna to risk their own safety and security because they could not accept a world where evil men like Hitler were given a stage to perform and from which to rule.
It truly is unfathomable to understand what the Jews of Europe were made to endure at the hands of the Nazis, but in Lewis Weinstein’s capable hands, it is possible to imagine. And, in today’s world, where we might be closer than we’d care to admit to being in a position where such hatred and power might be in line to become reality, A FLOOD OF EVIL is made that much more compelling and timely.
A FLOOD OF EVIL
is available in paper and kindle formats at …
as are all of Lew Weinstein’s books
Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 25, 2016
All of Lew’s books are available at amazon …
Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 12, 2016
This is an incredible story, scarcely believable, of how a well-placed German came to French Intelligence and offered to supply the most important Nazi secrets, and did so repeatedly over a substantial period of time.
What better resource could I look for as I write the sequel to A FLOOD OF EVIL, in which Berthold and Anna desperately strive to alert the western democracies to the dangers posed by Hitler.
I’m not finished my read, but here are a few examples …
… stunningly precise and varied intelligence was gathered by H.E. between 1932 and 1940 on the Nazi party, the rearmament of Germany, the organization of its military, administration and police, and on the activities of the Wehrmacht High Command and the Abwehr
… H.E., familiar with illegal border crossings, had taken stock of the risks. At forty-six, well positioned in the Nazi hierarchy, holding a superior civil post, now frequenting— thanks to the fame of his parents and his brother— the upper milieus of the Berlin military and civil societies … his privileged position in the party, the rise of his brother in the military high command, his extensive responsibilities in the Forschungsamt— all offered daily opportunities.
… From February 1934, H.E.’ s invisible ink letters provided a weekly report about the increasing motorization and mechanization of the German army
Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 11, 2016
Lewis Weinstein has written a novel that is both compelling and riveting. The love, strength and courage between Anna, the Jewish journalist and Berthold, the German boy which takes place during the rise to power of Adolf Hitler, is a real page turner. The mix of historical facts and realistic characters makes this a must read book. The author skillfully makes you able to believe that history is most certainly able to repeat itself.
Can’t wait for Part 2!!
NOTE from LEW:
I am making good progress with a draft of what I think will be Book 2 in a trilogy.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 19, 2016
Lloyd Liggett gave A FLOOD OF EVIL 5***** …
This is one of the best books I have ever read! … “historical fiction” of the highest order … a thoroughly engrossing story of the relationship between a young German man and a young Polish-Jewish woman against the backdrop of Hitler’s appearance and rise to power .
It also gives us an insight into why Hitler had such appeal to the German People … his horrific hatred of the Jews … the inability of The Church or of neighboring nations to take a more active approach to recognize, or deal with the growing menace Hitler’s Germany was becoming.
This is Book 1 of Mr Weinstein’s proposed 2 book series. I am eagerly awaiting Book 2.
A really wonderful read! … My comments can not do justice to it!
A FLOOD OF EVIL (and all of Lew’s novels)
is available on amazon in both print and kindle format
(also available in NOOK format at B&N) …
* a new reader comment regarding the ending of A FLOOD OF EVIL … “the conclusion of your novel is just downright touching” … thank you Randy
Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 19, 2016
Randy Becker writes …
” … the conclusion of your novel is just downright touching. In the midst of all that intrigue and horror, we are reminded that love trumps hate. Well done sir — very human.”
A FLOOD OF EVIL (and all of Lew’s novels)
is available on amazon in both print and kindle format
(also available in NOOK format at B&N) …
Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 12, 2016
from a reader who read an earlier draft …
I have been meaning to tell you I finished A FLOOD OF EVIL. I loved how you tightened up the narrative.
“What I find scary is how some of the Nazi talk resembles Donald Trump’s words. You wrote your book and did your research long before Trump came on the scene. The similarities are astonishing. And he does appeal to the same type of people. Horrifying.”
* a new review of A FLOOD OF EVIL … to be published in the Beth-El synagogue newsletter in September
Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 2, 2016
by Amy Kaplan …
Several outstanding new novels are set against the background of the Second World War.
A Flood of Evil, Book One 1923-1933 by Beth El’s own Lewis M. Weinstein is the first of two novels Weinstein is writing about a German Catholic boy and a Polish Jewish girl.
Berthold is favored by Nazi party officials, yet is opposed to what the Nazis are doing. Anna wants a more modern life, and wishes to be the first girl from her village to attend the University of Warsaw. How these two meet and fall in love is one aspect of the story.
The real interest, for me, is in the details of daily life in the pre-War era and the close-ups Weinstein gives of the highest-ranking Nazis as they ascend to power.
The story is framed by a present-day narrative about the daughter of the man who ultimately prosecuted Berthold at Nuremberg; this young woman’s quest for more information leads her to interview the aged Berthold in Munich and Anna in Jerusalem.
This is an entertaining read that also educates the reader about a key period in history.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 1, 2016
“Weinstein’s FLOOD OF EVIL takes a horrifying period of history and turns it into a page-turning novel. The characters are so well-drawn and the cast so real you’ll forget it’s fiction. Can’t wait for volume two….”
A FLOOD OF EVIL IS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON
IN PRINT OR KINDLE FORMAT …
SO IS RICK OLLERMAN’s LATEST THRILLER …
Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 30, 2016
Faye Kellerman … “Author Lew Weinstein has written a riveting story set in a dark chapter of history filled with timeless truths and timeless love.”
A FLOOD OF EVIL IS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON
IN PRINT OR KINDLE FORMAT …
SO IS FAYE KELLERMAN’s LATEST MYSTERY THRILLER …
Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 28, 2016
Every day another one of Hitler’s vile campaign approaches shows up in the Trump campaign.
Yesterday it was the SUPPRESSION OF A FREE PRESS as Trump’s muscle banned a Washington Post reporter from one of Trump’s recent events.
Jose DelReal is one of a small team of people who cover Donald Trump’s presidential campaign for The Washington Post. On Wednesday, he was in Milwaukee to cover an appearance by Trump running mate Mike Pence. DelReal was barred from covering the event as a reporter, in keeping with Trump’s six-week-old ban on The Washington Post. DelReal then tried to enter the event as a citizen. He was told he could not enter with a cell phone despite the fact that other people were not held to that same standard. He put his phone and computer in the car and again tried to enter. He was refused — again — and patted down. “I don’t want you here. You have to go,” the security official told him.
Today TRUMP EQUATED KILLING JOURNALISTS WITH RUNNING A COUNTRY
“He’s running his country and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country,” Trump said when asked by “Morning Joe” Republican host Joe Scarborough about Putin’s alleged killing of journalists and political opponents.
If you think I’m overstating the similarities between Trump and Hitler, I invite you to read my new historical novel A FLOOD OF EVIL …
A FLOOD OF EVIL highlights Hitler’s approach, which offered no details regarding solutions and repeated incessantly that only a strong Fuhrer could solve what was wrong with Germany. Right wing German conservatives were among those who brought Hitler to power. They thought they could control him, but it took Hitler only a few days in office to prove them wrong.
Hitler’s rise to power is told through the eyes of two young lovers, a German Catholic boy named Berthold Becker and a Polish Jewish girl named Anna Gorska, who struggle to convince those in power to stop Hitler before he becomes Chancellor.
Early readers of A FLOOD OF EVIL have urged American voters to read this story in order not to repeat in 2016 the mistakes made in Germany in 1933.
Available in print and kindle formats on amazon …
* several readers have told me that A FLOOD OF EVIL has given them important insights into Donald Trump’s campaign of anger and hate.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 23, 2016
Hitler’s core strategy was to use fear and hate to attract angry, uneducated voters while providing no details of what he would actually do to correct Germany’s problems.
Many people in Germany in the early 1930s understood what Hitler was saying. Many of them however, including leading conservative politicians, businessmen and the military, believed Hitler could be easily controlled once in power, and that they could use him to accomplish their own aims. It took but a few days to prove them horribly wrong, and their mistake proved to be irreversible.
In my opinion, many Republicans currently supporting Trump suffer from the same delusion.
If you are frightened by the possibility of a Trump Presidency, I encourage you to read A FLOOD OF EVIL, and then work hard to keep Trump out of the Oval Office.
A FLOOD OF EVIL is available in print and ebook formats at amazon.com …
A FLOOD OF EVIL … a fascinating story … poignant … compelling … difficult to put down … a message for America in 2016
Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 15, 2016
a new review of A FLOOD OF EVIL … 5.0 out of 5 stars … A Most Important History Lesson … By Brenda Schiff on July 14, 2016
“A Flood of Evil” by Lewis Weinstein is a compelling read. It offers a thoroughly researched history of Nazi Germany in the years 1923-1933, describing Hitler’s rise to power. However, because it is set within such a fascinating story, it is difficult to put down.
“Weinstein’s creative and disciplined mind has enabled him to deliver a most important history lesson, that is now especially poignant, considering the politics of the day…..This book should be on every high school reading list!”
Lew Weinstein adds …
My novel shows how Adolf Hitler seized power in Germany in 1933, in the face of statements by political leadership that they could control him, that he would never be able to implement the policies he had so clearly articulated. They were wrong and it took only two days in power for Hitler to make that clear.
Would you put faith in the pathetically weak Republican leadership to be able to control Trump? I believe a vote for Trump would be the most foolish and dangerous act any American could take.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 16, 2016
A reader’s reaction to A FLOOD OF EVIL
“I just finished your thoughtful book, and I enjoyed it very much. Your research is outstanding and the words flow, allowing the story to easily slip into the readers’ mind. Great characters, Anna and Berthold, developed so you care about them and understand their dangerous and scary positions. And for young people who don’t know of the horror of the Nazis, an important history lesson, one that is relevant in today’s political world.” … Bill Lorraine
Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 14, 2016
The story of Berthold Becker, a German Catholic, and Anna Gorska, a Polish Jew, is also the story of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in the years from 1923 to 1933. It is a story of particular importance for all of us in America to understand in 2016. Here are EXCERPTS from the Prologue of A FLOOD OF EVIL …
BERTHOLD BECKER IS ON TRIAL AT THE 1945 NUREMBERG WAR CRIMES TRIAL …
… Berthold Becker showed little emotion as his jailer unlocked his cell and escorted him along the dark corridor lined with soldiers. For several weeks he had sat quietly and watched as the trials of the other high-ranking Nazis had proceeded, and for the past two days he had paid somewhat greater attention as the evidence against him was presented, and what he regarded as a pathetic defense followed. It wasn’t his attorney’s fault. He was guilty. He had done horrible things. He couldn’t change what he had done and now he would pay the price. He expected to be hung.
ANNA GORSKA TESTIFIES AT BERTHOLD’S TRIAL …
… “Berthold Becker was a member of the Nazi Party, and in that capacity, he participated in the commission of at least some of the crimes he has been charged with by this Tribunal. I am sure he expects to be punished.” She paused. “But for reasons I will explain, he should not be put to death.
… “This defendant is not now and never was an evil man. He was dragged into a maelstrom not of his choosing and from which he was unable to escape. It is easy to say he should have done more to stop the Nazis and in hindsight perhaps he would agree.
… “Berthold Becker had a unique vantage point during the entire Nazi terror. He knows and will tell a truth that others deny.” Looking back to the justices, speaking slowly, she delivered each of her final words as if it were a dagger. “You have the power to allow the terrible story of German evil and guilt to be known. Do not take the life of this defendant. Let Berthold Becker live to tell his story.”
Available at amazon in print & kindle formats
from an amazon review ….
“I was caught up in the book from the very beginning. It’s a powerful and complex story about love, fear and the corrosive abuse of political power. I would say a lesson we need to recall today. Enjoy it. I did.”
Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 14, 2016
Amazon – on its own initiative – has decided to provide a temporary discount price of $14.01 for the paperback edition of A FLOOD OF EVIL. They will not tell me how long this discount will last, but it is definitely not permanent, so if you’re planning to purchase a paperback copy, this would be a good time to do it.
Thank you, amazon!
Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 13, 2016
I want to thank my Facebook and Goodreads friends for your initial response to the publication of my new novel A FLOOD OF EVIL. Many of my Goodreads friends have also marked it “to read.” Now I hope those who read my book on kindle or in paper will enjoy it and write reviews. Thanking you in advance.
Here is the first amazon review …
“I was caught up in the book from the very beginning. It’s a powerful and complex story about love, fear and the corrosive abuse of political power. I would say a lesson we need to recall today. Enjoy it. I did.”
About A FLOOD OF EVIL …
A German Catholic boy and a Polish Jewish girl join forces to oppose Adolf Hitler as he makes his move to power.
The story opens in Nuremberg, where Berthold Becker is on trial with other major Nazi war criminals. He expects a death sentence, but Anna Gorska arrives and testifies on his behalf. Berthold is sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Forty-five years later, the daughter of Becker’s Nuremberg prosecutor asks her father to collaborate with her in a book about the characters in his Nuremberg trial. That book becomes the frame within which the story of Berthold and Anna is told. Book One covers the years from 1923 to 1933, from Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch to his appointment as Chancellor.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 11, 2016
Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 9, 2016
Several people have asked me why it took 6 years to research and write A FLOOD OF EVIL. Well, this is a historical novel, and I think it’s my obligation as an author to get the history correct.
There are no scenes in my novel which simply tell the history, but often a few words worked into the ongoing story of my characters can set the scene in a way that makes it more real to the reader.
How much research? Here is the SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY which is included at the end of A FLOOD OF EVIL. At least one research note from every one of these books informed at least one scene in my novel …
Abel, Theodore … Why Hitler Came into Power
Allen, William Sheridan … Nazi Seizure of Power
Baird, Jay … To Die for Germany: Heroes in the Nazi Pantheon
Bennett, Edward W … German Rearmament
Bitter, Alexander … Kurt Von Schleicher
Blobaum, Robert … Antisemitism In Modern Poland
Broszat, Martin … Hitler and the Collapse of Weimar Germany
Burleigh, Michael … The Third Reich: A New History
Conradi, Peter … Hitler’s Piano Player: Ernst Hanfstaengl
Coppa, Frank J. … The Papacy, the Jews, and the Holocaust
Cornwell, John … Hitler’s Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII
Davies, Norman … The Past in Poland’s Present
Dederichs, Mario R. … Heydrich: The Face of Evil
Domarus, Max … Hitler – Speeches and Proclamations
Dornberg, John … Munich 1923
Dorpalen, Andreas … Hindenburg and the Weimar Republic
Eliach , Yaffa … The Shtetl of Eishyshok
Evans, Richard … The Coming of the Third Reich
Ferguson, Adam … When Money Dies
Fest, Joachim … Hitler
Fest, Joachim … The Face Of The Third Reich
Fischer, Klaus … The History of an Obsession
Godman, Peter … Hitler and the Vatican
Goebbels, Josef … My Part in Germany’s Fight
Gold, Ben-Zion … Jews in Poland before the Holocaust
Gordon, Harold J. … Hitler and the Beer Hall Putsch
Gutman, Yisrael … The Jews of Poland Between the Wars
Haffner, Sebastian … Defying Hitler
Hanfstaengl, Ernst … Hitler
Hanser, Richard … Putsch!
Harsch, Donna … German Social Democracy and Nazism
Hastings, Derek … Catholicism and the Roots of Nazism
Heller, Celia Stopnicka … Jews of Poland Between the Wars
Herzl, Theodor … The Jewish State
Heschel, Abraham Joshua … The Inner World of the Jew
Hetherington, Peter … Unvanquished: Joseph Pilsudski
Hitler, Adolf … Mein Kampf
Hoffman, Eva … Shtetl: The History of a Small Town
Jedrzejewicz, Waclaw … Pilsudski: A Life for Poland
Junger, Ernst … Storm of Steel
Kershaw, Ian … Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris
Krieg, Robert … The Vatican Concordat With Hitler’s Reich
Lewy, Guenter … The Catholic Church And Nazi Germany
Manvell, Roger … Doctor Goebbels
Mendelsohn, Ezra … The Jews of East Central Europe
Mendelsohn, Ezra … Zionism in Poland
Michlic, Joanna Beata … Poland’s Threatening Other
Mierzejewski, Alfred C. … The German National Railway
Modras, Ronald E. … The Catholic Church & Antisemitism
Mommsen, Hans … The Rise and Fall of Weimar Democracy
Morris, Douglas G. … Justice Imperiled: Max Hirschberg
Mosse, George L. … Germans and Jews
Nagorski, Andrew … Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses
Niewyk, Donald L. … Social Democracy & Anti-Semitism
Nowicki, Ron … Warsaw: The Cabaret Years
Patch, William L. … Heinrich Bruning the Weimar Republic
Pease, Neal … The Catholic Church and Independent Poland
Peterson, Edward Norman … Hjalmar Schacht
Plach, Eva … Cultural Politics in Pilsudski’s Poland
Polonsky, Antony …. From Shtetl To Socialism
Polonsky, Antony … Jews in Independent Poland, 1918-1939
Remarque, Erich Maria … All Quiet on the Western Front
Remarque, Erich Maria … The Road Back
Reuth, Ralf … Goebbels
Richarz, Monika … Jewish Life in Germany
Roth, Joseph … The Wandering Jews
Ryback, Timothy W. … Hitler’s First Victims
Schacht, Hjalmar … My first seventy-six years
Schatz, Jaff … The Jewish Communists of Poland
Scholder, Klaus … The Churches and the Third Reich
Sciolino, Anthony … Christian Anti-Judaism & Nazi Anti-Semitism
Segel, Binjamin … A History of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion
Sinclair, Upton … Dragon’s Teeth
Singer, Isaac Bashevis … The Manor
Smaldone, William … Rudolf Hilferding
Stachura, Peter D … Gregor Strasser and the Rise of Nazism
Stachura, Peter D … Poland Between the Wars, 1918-1939
Stehlin, Stewart A. … Weimar and the Vatican, 1919-1933
Time Life … Fists of Steel
Toland, John … Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography
Turner, Henry … Hitler’s Thirty Days To Power
Ventresca, Robert … The Life of Pope Pius XII
Wasserstein, Bernard … On the Eve: The Jews of Europe
Watt, Richard … Bitter Glory: Poland and Its Fate
Weitz, Eric D. … Weimar Germany
Whaley, Barton … Covert German Rearmament
Wolf, Hubert … Pope and Devil: The Vatican’s Archives
Yasni, A. Wolf…. Ciechanow Jewish Community
Zamoyski, Adam … The Polish Way: Poles and Their Culture
Zbrowski, Mark … Life is With People : The Culture of the Shtetl
Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 9, 2016
A FLOOD OF EVIL is now available on amazon in PAPERBACK as well as EBOOK form.
ABOUT PRICING …
I have priced both the paperback and ebook versions below the current market. This is my way of saying thank you to all my GOODREADS and FACEBOOK friends who have been so encouraging to me as I have gone through the 6 year process of researching and writing this book. These introductory prices will be maintained for a short time, after which the prices will be raised.
ABOUT A FLOOD OF EVIL …
A FLOOD OF EVIL is a powerful story of two young people who are thrown by circumstances into a dangerous effort to try to stop Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. The way they carry out that effort, while also dealing with all the issues of their emerging love, makes for a tense and emotional story. At least that was my intent. When you read A FLOOD OF EVIL, you can make your own conclusion as to whether I succeeded.
Thank you again for your support.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 8, 2016
A FLOOD OF EVIL has been published.
The ebook is now available on amazon and a paperback edition will be available in a few days.
A FLOOD OF EVIL introduces a German Catholic boy and a Polish Jewish girl who fall in love and join forces to oppose Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. They are young, vital, and more than a little frightened.
The book opens in a Nuremberg courtroom, where Berthold Becker is on trial with other major Nazi war criminals. His life is saved when Anna Gorska unexpectedly arrives and testifies on his behalf.
Forty-five years later, the daughter of Becker’s Nuremberg prosecutor asks her father to collaborate with her to tell the story of the people in his trial.
“We’ve read her testimony,” the prosecutor says.
“There must be more,” his daughter responds. “If they’re still alive, I want to find them and tell that story.”
Book One of A FLOOD OF EVIL covers the lives of Berthold and Anna from 1923 to 1933, from Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch to his appointment as German Chancellor. Research and writing of Book Two is ongoing.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 7, 2016
Claudia Koonz sets out to answer the question of why Germans were so willing to participate or at least stand aside for the murder of millions of innocent citizens. She puts forward the proposition that Christian Germans were prepared by the Nazis through a carefully executed program that included relentless denigration of Jews as subhuman enemies of the German “Volk,” coordinated with powerful enforcement against any who strayed from the Nazi line. Altogether she makes a sickeningly convincing case against both the Nazis and the Christian Germans, opposite sides of the same repulsive coin.
Koonz’ case is made even more powerful by the academic tone she almost always maintains. Surely there is anger simmering behind her words, but she rarely lets it filter through.
SELECTED EXCERPTS …
… The popular risers of anti-Semitism the planners of genocide followed a coherent set of severe ethical maximums derived from broad philosophical concepts … they denied the existence of universal moral values and instead promoted moral maxims which they saw as appropriate to their Aryan community … Asserting the superiority of their own communitarian values above all others
… Having fully absorbed knowledge of the “Jewish menace” … a Nazi was ready to accept deportation and murder as just … if he had a Jewish friend, he would say “what a misfortune that my friend is Jewish” rather than “how terrible it is at we are murdering Jews”
… The expulsion of Jews from Germans’ universe of moral obligations was carefully engineered
… The Nazi program sought to break ties between Jews and their surroundings … until Jews were totally isolated from the Christian German population
… The Nazis implemented an acceptance of “ethnic fundamentalism” which summoned its followers to seek vengeance for past wrongs and to forge a glorious future cleansed of ethnic aliens … Germans were enticed to participate in a moral universe accessible only to the favored
… Jews, who before 1933 were friends, neighbors, and colleagues … were now to be considered pariahs, a plague on Germany
… Hitler linked “Jewish” with despised values, such as urbanism, materialism, and greed … link the Jewish press with promoting decadence … blame moral degeneration on sexual intercourse between Jews and Christians
… Most Germans tacitly approved of persecution so long as they did not feel personally threatened or inconvenienced
… Heydrich: too many German citizens perceive Jews as harmless … they must be defined as a threat, loathsome as well as lethal
… Der Sturmer and Das Schwarze Korps both portrayed Jews as not only dangerous but also subhuman … words like “extinction” and “annihilation” he came routine … the intent was to create a German conscience that minimize the psychic stress they might experience when murdering Jews
… The final solution did not develop as evil incarnate but rather as the dark side of ethnic righteousness … to German Christians caught up what they perceived as a high moral purpose purification of racial aliens became a difficult but necessary duty
Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 1, 2016
This is an extraordinary book. The author, grand-daughter of Jews who escaped from a small German town, went back to that town, met with people who had known her grand-parents, and produced a thoughtful presentation of the feelings and pressures on both Jews and Christians as the Nazi regime increased its persecution of Jews.
Lifelong friendships were instantly terminated within days of Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor, even before the most oppressive laws and measures were implemented. Most Christians looked away as Jews endured an increasingly lonely and fearful existence. Some Christians exhibited kindness, for instance bringing food to Jews no longer allowed in Christian shops, but most, fearful of being denounced by their neighbors, simply ignored the Jews.
Ms. Henry also recorded attitudes of Christian Germans after Germany’s defeat. Mostly, they were angry at Allied bombing and other so-called “atrocities.” They acted like victims, of the Allies and of Hitler. Nobody felt their own actions were to blame.
What would I have done in their shoes? Could they have done anything meaningful? These are questions I am addressing as I write my novel A FLOOD OF EVIL, Volume One of which will soon be published.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 28, 2016
A historical novel, such as A FLOOD OF EVIL, must add the feelings, hopes, despairs, and occasional excitement of the characters to the historical world in which they live. Memoirs are one of the best sources and starting places for emotions which will be incorporated into the story.
JEWISH RESPONSES TO PERSECUTION is a collection of original source documents, with notes, expressing the views of Jews trying to survive the Nazi persecution from 1933 to 1938. Page after page is heartbreaking, depressing,infuriating …
SELECTED EXCERPTS …
… a growing feeling of powerlessness left many feeling isolated … unable even to comprehend the bewildering complexities and seeming inconsistencies of the Nazis’ actions
… What good does it do for her to work hard at school; she can’t achieve anything, can’t become anything; all paths are hopelessly closed for her
… As Jewish leaders tried to develop a strategy … individual Jews had difficulty asseessing what was happening and what was likely … individual experiences, plus stories told by relatives and friends, and even by the press, rarely added up to a consistent picture … sometimes brief periods of calm allowed cautious optimism
… Even a six-year-old recognizes the fear in the air … their faces become serious and anxious … a sense of their own inferiority becomes pervasive
… 10% of the Jewish deaths in Mannheim last year were suicides
… I was in Munich at the offices of the Bavarian Jewish communities concerning our move out of Germany … however they are completely powerless and cannot intervene to help me
… in Dachau … in the dark, a Jewish prisoner sings the prayer for lighting Sabbath candles … the men in the barracks hum along
Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 17, 2016
Anthony Eden was urbane, witty, prescient, and a wonderful writer … reading his memoirs is like being in the room at the critical times when the diplomatic conversations of 1935-38 led to so many wrong decisions and ultimately to the horrors of WWII and the Holocaust.
Eden served three periods as Foreign Secretary and then a relatively brief term as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
SELECTED EXCERPTS …
… It can be argued that no decision taken by Poland in 1935 would have prevented the German-Russian deal that destroyed Poland in 1939 … I am not so sure … I believe Polish leaders would have been wiser to throw in their weight wholeheartedly with the Western powers, including Russia … This might have changed Germany’s actions towards Czechoslovakia, might even have averted Munich
… The rearmament of the Rhineland (in 1936) was an example of Hitler’s brazen but skillful tactics … his illegal deed was combined with assurances for the present and promises for the future … the timing was perfect, including the usual choice of a weekend … his initiative was limited, and did not show evidence of any imminent intent to attack France or Belgium … designed to inhibit effective response … Hitler’s anticipation was that neither of the French nor the British would have any appetite for physical response … He had paid close attention to press reports from France and Britain … And also had spies in both countries
… in Jan 1938 … Roosevelt communicated secretly to Neville Chamberlain … his deep concern with the deterioration of the world situation … he wished to take action along the only lines open to him, given the state of American public opinion … he proposed calling the entire diplomatic corp of Washington to the White House … He would lay before the representatives of all countries the following suggestions: reduction of armaments; equal access to raw materials; laws of warfare … If the response were favorable, the United States government would begin working with selected governments on the details of tentative proposals which could then be submitted to other nations … Roosevelt was communicating with this proposal to the British only, and would proceed only if he received assurance from Chamberlain that the proposal met with the wholehearted support of his Majesty’s government
… Eden’s recommendation was to immediately accept Roosevelt’s proposal … and to make no destructive criticisms or reservations or attempts to define issues more clearly … even if nothing concrete comes from Roosevelt’s proposals in the short-term, they will bring us time and will bring the United States a little nearer to a divided Europe
… but Chamberlain dithered and Roosevelt’s initiative was never made … Eden resigned a month later
* Lew’s comments on Bishop von Galen: German Catholicism and National Socialism by Beth A. Griech-Polelle
Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 14, 2016
Bishop Galen of Munster is renowned for his opposition to the Nazis, a distinction thoroughly demolished by this book. He did oppose Hitler’s euthanasia program, but as Griech-Polelle points out, this only serves to emphasize his lack of concern for Nazi terror and murder of Jews, when he was fully aware of what was happening.
Bishop Galen was not unlike most other German Bishops, and the Vatican, in his failure to speak out against the persecution, deportation and murder of Jews. What is infuriating was the post-war attempt of the Catholic Church to portray him as an ardent fighter against the Nazis, even to the point of proposing sainthood. Fortunately, Pope John Paul II decided in 1987 that Bishop Galen would not be canonized, and instead named Edith Stein for her courageous witness to the horror of Nazi brutality.
SELECTED EXCERPTS …
… Galen … renowned for his very public denunciation of euthanasia … was silent concerning the fate of the Jews, even when he had verifiable proof that deportation meant death … similarly, Galen did not protest the April 1933 boycott, the 1935 Nuremberg Laws, the 1938 pogrom, or any other act of violence perpetrated against Jews who had lived in his diocese of Munster since the 12th century
… Galen surely saw the signs outside Munster … Jews are Germany’s misfortune … trespassing of this community by Jews is unwanted
… Galen sermon … directly quoted Hitler’s words regarding the need to fight the “Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy”
… Galen, in a single sermon, combined the imagery of disorder, Russian terror, heresy, and Jewishness … thus immunizing Catholics against feeling the need to intervene on behalf of their Jewish neighbors
… the Jewish question was not an immediate concern of the Church, nor was it an immediate concern of the Bishop Galen
Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 11, 2016
So sad to read … a documentation of the Nazi web tightening around German Jews … their confusion and panic and efforts to leave … the changing roles of women forced to assume greater responsibilities.
SELECTED EXCERPTS …
… Jewish women were (compared to Jewish men) … more sensitive to discrimination … more eager to leave Germany … more willing to face uncertainty abroad
… many Jewish women experimented with new behaviors never before attempted by any German women … interceding with the authorities on behalf of their men … selling their homes on their own … seeking paid employment for the first time … deciding on countries of refuge on their own
… in their daily interactions, all Germans, from Nazi officials to ordinary Germans on the tram, had extraordinary power over Jews … this became normal
… The law became a source of persecution … perhaps the most frightening aspect was being deprived of the protection of law
… Many Germans used the vulnerable position of Jews for their own advantage … blackmail … demanding receipts for bills they had never paid … legal action against them was impossible … tenants refused to pay rent … landlords refused to honor rental contracts
… Dismissing Jewish teachers provided opportunities for the unemployed … likewise non-Jewish doctors profited from the removal of Jewish doctors … Government insurance agencies threatened patients who continued to go to Jewish doctors … Jewish doctors (male and female) lost their health insurance affiliation
… even when Jews gathered in private homes … they feared they were being watched by neighbors or by the Gestapo
… Confusing signals made the decision to leave difficult … Random kindnesses by German neighbors led Jews to conclude that Germany would never tolerate the most radical Nazi programs
… Jews faced requests for bribes and tributes at every step of the way … Gestapo agents, civil servants, packers and movers, even people in foreign consulates
… A Jewish woman is still thankful today that her mother save their lives by having sex the bureaucrat who then provided their exit papers
Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 10, 2016
For all those who loved Sinatra and his music, this book of photographs will evoke warm delightful memories. Lew Weinstein had a front row seat for one of Sinatra’s legendary performances and luckily, he had his good camera along. From the beginning of this concert to its end, these extraordinary and intimate photos capture Sinatra delivering each song with his magical way of singing the truth. Sinatra always sang from his heart, and the evidence is here, in this beautiful compilation of unique and truly ‘one of a kind’ photographs. I am not aware of any other photographic record of Sinatra in performance that matches these pictures. Thank you for this, Lew. They’re beautiful! Mike Mulligan, Key West FL
I was born too late to experience the Chairman of the Board in person. Of course I’ve seen the clips and heard the songs, but until this collection of images, I never really enjoyed the full essence of Frank Sinatra. 20 stunning black and white images that are raw, unembellished, candid images that by their presentation alone will set the mood and transport you to the edge of the stage. I find the honest portrayal of the images only serves to enhance the experience and I swear I can smell the smoke from the cigarette as the haze dances among the stage lights and adds an ethereal touch to the photos. A wonderful compilation of images that anyone who has ever enjoyed the magic of the master would cherish.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 9, 2016
NOTE: As I await a decision on the publication of A FLOOD OF EVIL, I have been accumulating research which will be used in Volume Two of my novel, which I hope to begin drafting this summer.
NO WAY OUT …
This is a sad book, telling the story of the inexorable squeezing of the lives of 3 million Jews by the Polish Christian population after Marshal Pilsudski’s death in 1935. Fomented by right wing politicians and the Catholic Church, this accelerating Jew-hatred was much like what was taking place in Nazi Germany at the same time. There were some exceptions among Christian Poles, but not many. Most Poles wanted the Jews to leave but there was no place for them to go, particularly as the British lowered quotas for Polish Jews to emigrate to Palestine. The net result was a huge level of indifference when the Nazis conquered Poland, rounded up all the Jews, and murdered them at Auschwitz and other places.
Melzer’s book provides much detail on the economic and social persecution of Polish Jews, both through governmental actions and by unchecked violence.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 4, 2016
This is a very difficult book to read, both because of the material and also Lewy’s complicated style of writing, which sometimes seems as circuitous as the Catholic pronouncements he is presenting and explaining. Nevertheless, it is a treasure of information.
Lewy’s bottom line conclusion is damning …
Although a few priests and even fewer bishops tried to oppose Hitler and his annihilation of Jews, most did not. The Church as an institution did nothing. The fundamental reason for this was the Church’s centuries-long denunciation and persecution of Jews, which locked its own position and that of German Catholics into an attitude of indifference to the plight of Europe’s Jews.
In the final analysis, Pius XII did not disagree with Hitler that the Jews were a menace to be eliminated. There is no evidence that Pius XII condoned Hitler’s mass murder of Jews, but neither did he say a single word to condemn it. Lewy’s conclusion, and mine, is that this was a total and disgraceful abdication of the Church’s pretension to moral authority.
Cardinal Faulhaber of Munich, who is a character in my new historical novel, appears many times in Lewy’s book, and thus I have gained many opportunities to raise questions in my novel as to what Faulhaber thought as he dealt with his Church’s appropriate role and his own personal dilemma.
* Lew’s review of “The Gestapo and German Society: Enforcing Racial Policy 1933-1945” by Robert Gellately
Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 25, 2016
A truly excellent and detailed portrayal of how the Gestapo enforced German anti-Jewish policies and how ordinary Germans played a crucial role by denouncing their friends and neighbors. Some excerpts …
… Germans have been convincing themselves, in hindsight, that there was an extensive army of Gestapo agents and spies which allowed no opportunity for any real resistance or opposition to have crystallized … Gellately says that story is no longer convincing
… ordinary German citizens played a key role in their own policing and help make possible the murderous deeds of the Nazi regime
… the Gestapo’s reputation for brutality … and the knowledge that anyone could be sent to a concentration camp for an indefinite period … was central to the Gestapo’s effectiveness
… police now had the authority to arrest and detain any suspect deemed a threat to the state … with no judicial procedure or permission … this could amount to unlimited trial, indeed without even charges
… Gestapo cases were organize into many categories … continuation of political parties … continuation of forbidden religious associations … forbidden youth groups … nonconforming verbal utterances … nonconforming work or leisure activities … acquiring or spreading of forbidden printed matter … listening to foreign radio … political passivity … conventional criminality … improper statements from the pulpit
… Jews were made to feel that they could expect little help from their neighbors … that anti-Jewish policies would increase in number … and enforced down to the smallest detail … any sympathy that might be shown by any other person for their plight or even regarding the efficacy of anti-Semitic policies could be treated by anyone who wished to as cause for a report to the local Gestapo authority
… there was a high incidence of false charges … but the Gestapo could use intimidation,, extortion and blackmail to force victims to sign confessions … Gestapo interrogation was often exhausting for the victims … days and weeks filled with terror and anxiety … some, when released temporarily, attempted suicide to escape the relentless cross examination by the tireless officials
… sexual intercourse between Jews and non-Jews was declared a crime by the Nuremberg laws of 1935 … even friendly or social relations with Jews constituted an area of potential criminality
… a life-threatening incident could begin anywhere and at any time … a group was listening to dance music on the radio at a bar … the music was interrupted by a speech by Hitler … somebody turned off the radio … a woman immediately try to ascertain the name of the person who did that … the radio was turned back on but the lady was not satisfied and made a report to the Gestapo
… an elderly couple, a Jewish merchant and a woman who lived across the street from him, we’re suspected of having a relationship which might be considered raise the file … although the advanced years of both parties suggest that they fear of race defilement through production of a child of next ancestry was out of the question … nevertheless remarkably dogged and sometimes ridiculous efforts were pursued until the man died suddenly of natural causes … or did he commit suicide?
… sometimes there were not enough cases of race defilement … Gestapo officials had to invent more cases … Jews were lured into compromising situations and then denounced … or so called evidence was simply invented … to local Gestapo officers it was a foregone conclusion that every Jewish person brought to their attention could be linked with some infringement of race regulation
Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 20, 2016
20 never-before-published photos of Sinatra in concert
AN EVENING WITH FRANK is available at amazon …
Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 16, 2016
A month or so ago, I was just about to publish A FLOOD OF EVIL as a POD book on amazon. But first I thought I would try to find an agent to represent me and sell the book to a real publisher. I sent out letters to agents who seemed interested in historical fiction and now 5 agents are reading my book. Doesn’t mean anyone will sign me up, but it is encouraging. For the moment, POD publishing is on hold.
Here is a synopsis of the book the agents are reading …
A FLOOD OF EVIL opens with a Nazi named Berthold Becker on trial at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials shortly after the end of WWII. He is saved from a certain death sentence by the unexpected testimony of a Polish Jewish woman named Anna Gorska.
Years later, the Nuremberg prosecutor and his daughter, now a history professor at Brandeis University, decide to work together on a book about the two people from his trial. They locate Berthold in Munich and Anna in Jerusalem and travel to them to learn their stories.
The reader meets Berthold, a Catholic, when he is thirteen years old and first exposed to the Nazis by his older brother. When the brother dies in Hitler’s failed beer hall putsch of 1923, Berthold is forever-after revered as the putsch martyr’s brother. As a result, even though he is repulsed by the Nazi violence and Jew-hatred, he is drawn into the Nazi orbit and gains unique access to the internal workings of the Nazi movement at the highest level.
Anna Gorska grows up in a Polish shtetl where her Orthodox Jewish family struggles against the forces of modernization. She leaves the shtetl to attend Warsaw University and, aided by her family’s connections with Polish strongman Josef Pilsudski, becomes a respected journalist with an international following.
Anna is sent to Munich to do a story on Jewish students in German universities. She meets Berthold and he offers to help with her student interviews. They fall in love and begin a lifetime of working together under severe duress to try to stop Hitler and the Nazis.
Through these characters, we meet many of the Nazi insiders, and also the people and institutions who could have stopped Hitler, but didn’t.
We learn Berthold and Anna’s stories not only from their recollections, but also by meeting them in “real time,” in the presence of the Brandeis professor and her father. Berthold and Anna, still sharp and intense in their 80s, thus provide the reader with a direct, first-person connection to supplement and comment on the story as they lived it.
A FLOOD OF EVIL is planned as a multi-volume historical novel. Book One, which is self-contained, begins in 1923 and ends shortly after Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 15, 2016
Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 6, 2016
The sections dealing with Kristallknacht are particularly poignant, including the fate of one relatively low-ranking planner, who sent out orders to attack and destroy and murder Jews, and who, subsequent to a brief imprisonment by the Allies after the war, retired on a “fat pension” since he had been promoted to the rank of General in the Waffen-SS.
Six million dead; this Nazi pig retired on a fat pension!
Lew’s review of “The Hidden Encyclical of Pius XI” by Georges Passelecq … and some thoughts regarding the bounds of historical fiction
Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 2, 2016
In June of 1938, Pope Pius XI asked an American Jesuit priest to prepare a draft of what the Holy Father expected to become a Papal Encyclical denouncing the racial policies and antisemitism of the Nazis. Father LaFarge went to Paris and prepared such a draft, which he brought to Rome in September 1938. What happened next to that draft is not known.
A few months later, in February 1939, Pius XI died and in March 1939 Cardinal Pacelli became Pius XII. The Encyclical was never promulgated and in fact disappeared for decades.
Passelecq managed to obtain the draft and much but not all of the record related to it. Many important facts are likely still buried in Vatican archives, or perhaps destroyed, but what Passelecq obtained is enough for a fascinating story and even more fascinating questions.
Did Pius XI ever see the draft? Was it kept from him, and if so, did Cardinal Pacelli have anything to do with that? Did Pacelli see the draft? Did Pacelli decide to bury it and if so why?
Questions like these can perhaps be answered some day if the Vatican provides all the archives it has. Other questions are more speculative.
Would the Encyclical, if published, have made any difference in the Nazi’s subsequent murder of 6 million Jews? Would the Encyclical have created an anti-Nazi climate where the US might have entered the fight with England sooner? Would the Encyclical have created pressure for Allied bombing of Auschwitz and other murder sites? Would the Encyclical have led to Nazi retaliation against Catholics living in Germany, Poland and elsewhere? Would the Encyclical have encouraged other countries to allow more Jews to get out of Germany before they were murdered?
For me, Passelecq’s book provides much material for one or more possible chapters in Book Two of A FLOOD OF EVIL which I hope to write later this year.
THOUGHTS REGARDING THE BOUNDS OF HISTORICAL FICTION
But what are the appropriate rules for writing historical fiction when some of the facts are known and others are not? My guidelines are these:
(1) if I state an historical fact, get it as right as possible;
(2) if responsible sources disagree on the facts, I am free to choose whichever version I want to portray;
(3) for the fictional parts which go beyond the known facts, they must be plausible with regard both to known events and to the reported personalities and inclinations of the historical characters;
(4) there must be no credible negative facts which make the fiction I am writing impossible to have happened.
Given those guidelines, I feel free to create a work of historical fiction which goes beyond the history and presents a plausible version of what might have happened. “The Hidden Encyclical of Pius XI” gives me a huge and powerful canvass on which to create important aspects of my novel.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 27, 2016
Rabbi Leo Baeck was perhaps the most important leader of the Jews of Germany during the Hitler years. A scholar and spiritual leader before Hitler’s rise, Baeck turned down offers to leave Germany and took on the difficult and ultimately frustrating role of coordinating Jewish response to the closing Nazi net. Arrested several times, he survived Theresienstadt and lived his final years in England. Baker has written a marvelous account of Baeck’s long and remarkable life.
Baeck recognized that the scattered organizational structure of German Jewry was not adequate to stand against Nazi antisemitism. He helped create and was the chief spokesman for the Reichsverretung, an organization which supervised welfare problems of German Jews … education … emigration … raised funds … and sought help of Jews abroad. He was a major factor in the escape of many German Jews during the late 1930s when escape was still possible.
In 1935, on Yom Kippur shortly after the passage of the infamous Nuremberg Racial Laws, Baeck wrote a stirring sermon to be read in all synagogues in Germany. In this sermon, Baeck stated … that there was a moment of decision for each individual, the point beyond which he will not bend, the pressure to which he will not succumb, the sacrifice he will not make … that Judaism was the history of the grandeur of the human soul and the dignity of human life … that no matter how weak we are, how oppressed we might be, how abruptly our former friends turn away from us, we cannot be defeated.
Baeck was arrested by the Gestapo, but soon released after pressure from an article in the London Times and protest from a group of Christian ministers in the US. Baker points out that “no German Christian leaders protested the Baeck’s arrest.”
This event, and others in Baeck’s life, will likely play a role in Book Two of my novel A FLOOD OF EVIL.
* Lew’s review of The Face of the Third Reich: Portraits of the Nazi Leadership by Joachim Fest (chapter on Reinhardt Heydrich)
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 27, 2016
Joachim Fest has created fascinating, terrifying portraits of the major figures in the Nazi leadership.
I just read the chapter on Reinhardt Heydrich, described by Fest as … the architect and brain behind the SS state … a man free from humanitarian restraints … with an insatiable greed for power … and unencumbered by either ideologies or emotions.
Heydrich was the man who fashioned the Final Solution to murder all the Jews of Europe. Yet, according to Fest … Heydrich lived under the continual constraint of his own Jewish ancestors … he tried to destroy all the evidence … but was unable to prevent enemies and rivals from obtaining documentary evidence.
Fest states that Heydrich went so far as to change the headstone of his grandmother’s grave so that it said ‘S. Heydrich’ rather than ‘Sarah Heydrich.’
According to Fest … Himmler & Hitler were aware of Heydrich’s Jewish ‘problem’ … they regarded Heydrich as gifted but dangerous … and felt their knowledge of his ancestry would keep him in line … he will obey blindly.
It is important to note that Fest’s views on Heydrich’s Jewish ancestry are not universally accepted by other historians.
Heydrich is introduced briefly in Book One of my soon-to-be-published novel A FLOOD OF EVIL, and it is my intent that he will be a major character in Book Two, which I have begun to research and outline.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 20, 2016
JUST MERCY is a ringing denunciation of the way prosecutors, police officers and judges conspire to get convictions without having the evidence.
How do they do this? They cheat.
They make up evidence. They create and intimidate witnesses by threats and bribes. They hide exculpatory evidence they are required by law to give to the defense attorney.
These public officials are a disgrace to American law enforcement and they are almost never punished for their behavior, even when those they wrongly sent to prison are released 10, 20 or more years later, their lives ruined.
Bryan Stevenson writes as well as the top mystery novelists, except his stories are true. He is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. (http://www.eji.org/) which works to help correct the horrors of children sent to prison without possibility of parole, people on death row whose convictions are a travesty of justice, and minorities who do not get anything close to fair and equal treatment. The book presents examples of each of these kinds of cases. Stevenson’s cases take place in the south, but the problems he describes are found everywhere in America. Meeting these people will make you cry. It could happen to you.
I have studied and written about these matters in my novel A Good Conviction. John Grisham’s Rogue Lawyer covers much of the same territory. Our fiction is based on real cases, but Bryan Stevenson gives it to you straight, from real life, recent cases, still happening.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 18, 2016
On May 26, 1978, I attended Frank Sinatra’s last appearance at the Latin Casino in Cherry Hill NJ. Seated near the stage, I shot one roll of ASA 400 black and white film. It took about 25 minutes from start to finish.Sometime that summer, my friend Susan Rose developed the film and printed the photographs.
For almost 38 years, these photos have been in file folders, in drawers, and for the past eight years, in my garage.
Remarkably they have survived.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 4, 2016
Great news! All of my titles are now available at Books and Books at 533 Eaton St in Key West. Even “Hereje,” which is “The Heretic” in Spanish. But not A FLOOD OF EVIL, which is not yet published (soon!).
Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 21, 2016
Monsignor Thomas Hartman – Father Tom – died this weekend. I first met Monsignor Hartman at the 92nd Street Y in NYC where he opened his talk by saying “The Church did horrible things to the Jews and we were wrong.” Subsequently, he wrote a very thoughtful foreword to my novel THE HERETIC. Father Tom was everything good that a priest can be, a model not just for Catholics, but for all human beings.
Foreword to The Heretic by Msgr. Tom Hartman
The Heretic reminds us of a history
that we should not forget.
Marc Gellman and I rarely disagree. We’re best friends. There are many best friends in the world, but the fact that he is a rabbi and I am a priest has caused some people to sit up and take notice. People see us on Good Morning America or Imus In The Morning or our own God Squad show. We try to look out at our world and find a reason for hope which cuts across our respective religious faiths and gets to the heart of spiritually responding to God and our neighbor. We’ve been at this for thirteen years and our disagreements and tense moments have been few.
Marc and I had it out one evening at a local television station. We were talking about the convent at Auschwitz. I was incensed. A Jewish rabbi – Avi Weiss – and a group of his followers had jumped over the convent wall to pray in protest. This startled and frightened the group of contemplative nuns who had built the convent at Auschwitz to pray for the victims of the Holocaust. “How,” I asked Marc “can you or any other Jew support such an action? If Jews knew anything about these sisters they would realize that they were selfless, holy, and prayerful. They were committed to redeeming the ugly face of mass murder and destruction.”
Marc listened. His face told me that he was searching for a way to share something painful with me in a caring way. He turned, looked me in the eye, and said, “Tom, you don’t realize what the Cross of Jesus means to us Jews. For you the Cross is a sign of hope and redemption. For us it’s a sign of despair and destruction. It was during the Inquisition and the Crusades that Christians led with the Cross as they murdered thousands of Jews. They killed Jews and Muslims in the name of the Cross. Pogroms raped and pillaged our people in the name of vengeance toward the Jews that killed Christ.” Marc’s own aunt had once been abused by people leaving a Holy Week service looking for a Jew to vent their anger toward for the death of Jesus.
I didn’t realize the depth of his feelings on the subject until we did that show. It took me aback. That which was a sign of hope and redemptive love for me – the Cross – was a sign of destruction for him. Recognizing this for the first time, I could see why a Jew would be offended at the sight of the Cross at the scene of one of the greatest massacres of Jewish people in human history. I turned and said, “Marc, if that’s what the Cross represents to Jews, maybe we ought to take it down.” “No,” said Marc, “maybe we ought to build a synagogue next to the convent and we could both pray together.”
The Heretic, a book by Lewis Weinstein, was where I turned in order to understand the Inquisition. I knew the outline of Christian atrocities but Lew’s book taught me about the painful positions many good people were put into in order to survive. It’s not a pretty picture. Their lives were all scarred in one way or another. But The Heretic reminds us of a history that we should not forget.
link to obituary in NYT …
Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 13, 2016
This is one of the first books (published in 1970) to put the persecution of Jews by the Nazis into a sequential narrative context, and it is still valuable today even after many other works have added information not available to Schleunes.
The Nazi efforts to achieve the Jew-free Germany demanded by Hitler are described as a series of vicious programs which failed, from 1933 to 1938, to accomplish Hitler’s goal. Boycotts, legislation, emigration and pogroms all caused incredible hardship but still failed to eliminate Jews from Germany or even from the German economy. Finally, after Kristallknacht in November 1938, Hitler turned the Jewish problem over to Goering, Heydrich and Eichmann, which led to Auschwitz.
Schleunes argues that Nazi policy until late 1938 was implemented by various underlings acting without consistent direction from Hitler. From what I have so far read, I think this was true but not a complete analysis. Hitler’s fanatical Jew-hatred never wavered, from the moment he came to public attention in the early 1920s until his last statement before he died in 1945. But Hitler was patient, and his career is marked by a willingness to wait for the right opportunity and to defer action on one priority – ridding Germany of Jews – while focusing on the then-higher priorities of economic recovery and rearmament. When those goals had been achieved, and Germany no longer needed to be concerned with international opinion, Hitler turned to the Jews.
One aspect of the Nazi Jew-hatred that Schleunes does not address is why Hitler hated and feared Jews as he did, and why so many (most?) Germans had no problem accepting that hatred as valid and acquiescing in Hitler’s policies, even to the point of mass murder. Why were Jews hated? Where did Hitler acquire that hatred? Why was persecution of Jews so acceptable to so many Germans? These are issues I am dealing with in the almost completed A FLOOD OF EVIL (1923-1933) and the sequel which is now taking focus.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 26, 2015
I have completed a major revision and tightening of the entire draft and it is currently in the hands of “early readers.”
Thanks so much to all of the early readers who have already read portions of my novel and provided valuable comments.
Here’s my first draft of a book jacket description. Your comments are welcome …
A FLOOD OF EVIL
Do you believe it’s impossible for another Hitler-like menace to emerge in Europe or the United States? Actually, there are conditions today that provide frightening parallels to those in the Weimar Republic in the 1920s and early 1930s. It is important for all of us to understand how Hitler came to power, how his rise could have been stopped, and who chose not to oppose him.
Lewis Weinstein has written a bone-chilling novel that explores these issues through the eyes of two young people, one a German Catholic and the other a Polish Jew, who were extraordinarily positioned to understand what was happening as they worked with powerful people in both countries who sought to keep Hitler from power.
Berthold Becker was drawn into the Nazi orbit because his older brother was viewed as a martyr who had saved Hitler’s life in the 1923 Putsch attempt. He sees the leaders of the Nazi world from the inside.
Anna Gorska leaves her Polish shtetl and becomes an internationally respected journalist with access to the powerful.
Berthold and Anna fall in love and work together in a dangerous and ultimately futile quest to keep Hitler from power.
A FLOOD OF EVIL takes place in the years from 1923 to 1933, from the beginnings of the Nazi Party to Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on November 21, 2015
Linda’s review of THE HERETIC on GoodReads (Aug 2015) …
A well written story that will pull at your heartstrings because of the amount of loss and betrayal that occurs when the Catholic Church decides there can be no other religions to compete with them in Spain.
Gabriel Catalan and his family live in Seville where they are called Conversos because they converted to Catholicism to save their family from the torment they would get as Jews. However, Gabriel and a number of other Conversos are secret Jews. Many Catholics do not trust them yet the Conversos have been the ones to keep the country running smoothly. When the Spanish Inquisition begins Gabriel and his family as well as many friends are at risk of being caught in their secret lives and being put to death. This does not stop Gabriel and his son Tomas from hiding Gutenberg Printers so that they may print volumes of Jewish books for the future. There is hope among the Jewish population that things will one day be very different.
As I read this story I kept thinking about the present state of our world and how we seem to be becoming less tolerant again. We were supposed to have learned from the past but we seem to be ignoring it and in some cases pretending that it never happened. How sad for our future generations.
I believe that everyone should read this book as a reminder of what was and what should now be. When we think of intolerance, Hitler and the Nazis always come to mind but there is a whole lot more in our history than that. My hope for mankind is that someday everyone will “give peace a chance” and I believe this story is trying to lead us in that direction.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 7, 2015
A compelling read.
Several issues raised by Balson resonate sharply with me as I work through similar questions in my own new novel.
WARNING … POSSIBLE SPOILERS BELOW
,,, Ben hates his former friend and “brother” Otto for failing to save his parents and others from Nazi torture and murder but gives no credence to the enormous risks Otto did take to save Ben and his wife, the unsuccessful but still substantial efforts Otto made on behalf of others, and the numerous warnings he made for all of them to leave Poland while they still could. In the scenes where Otto was complicit in the murders, it seemed clear from Balson’s description that Otto’s only alternative was to try to save them and fail, and in the process commit suicide.
… What could Otto have done? What could any of the small cogs in the Nazi machine have done? Collectively, of course, tens of thousands of Germans could theoretically have refused to carry out Nazi orders, fomented or carried out revolution against Hitler, or fled Germany. Whether such actions were actually possible is highly questionable, but even if successful, they would likely have meant the deaths of the perpetrator’s families and neighbors.
… There should be a distinction, it seems to me, between patriotic actions in furtherance of national war aims and actions that were later termed, correctly in my view, war crimes. Should a patriotic German at a relatively low level in the army or even in the SS or Gestapo be held accountable for failing to distinguish the line between fighting for his country and committing acts against humanity (as later defined at the Nuremberg Trials)? I say yes, the line was clear enough, but the more difficult issue is whether you are obliged to risk not only your own life but also the lives of your own family, especially if you think your protest has no chance to succeed.
Balson raises all of these issues, and more, in stark dramatic form. A very good story.
* reviews of THE HERETIC on Goodreads … I have to admit I love to read these reviews … thanks to everyone for your kind words
Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 16, 2015
If I kept a GR shelf for family sagas, this book would be proudly placed there along withThe Pillars of the Earth, Gone With the Wind, and The Age Of Innocence. In my mind they are all historical novels which describe families and their trials and tribulations of living in troubling and/or interesting times.
This historical fiction was set during the Spanish Inquisition which I knew little about. During this inquisition under Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain in the late 1400’s and ear …more
the view …more
In the event I needn’t have been concerned at all. Yes there was much of what I expected but all of this was wrapped around a thrilling and superbly told story and added strength to what Lewis Weinstein was trying to achieve; to give readers a complete understanding of how and why the J …more
Gabriel Catalan ’s Jewish father was forcibly converted to Catholicism,thus becoming a converso. While some Jews were abl …more
I’m not sure where to start with my review of Lewis Weinstein’s ‘The Heretic’, so I’ll start by saying that it was a damn good read. I think that part of my problem here is that I read the sequel first, and while both books are very good works of fiction in their own right, there’s always a little less suspense when one knows, even in the broadest terms, what is going to happen down the line.
My misfortune aside, The Heretic is, like its sequel The Pope’s Conspiracy, a very well-written, historic …more
I read this book in one day, finding it difficult to put down. History, action, and love all abound in this book. Also present is the notion of i …more
* CASE CLOSED – Lew’s novel about the anthrax attacks and the failed FBI investigation – has been re-published. In this interview, Lew explains why perhaps his novel is closer to the truth than anything the FBI is asserting.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 24, 2015
Here is the link to the interview …
purchase CASE CLOSED at amazon … kindle $3.99, paper $14.95
Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 4, 2015
The new edition of CASE CLOSED could not come at a more opportune time.
Just a few days ago, on June 3, 2015, the Pentagon reported that 51 laboratories received shipments of live anthrax, across 17 states (plus D.C.) and three foreign countries over a period of at least ten years. The Defense Department admitted it didn’t know everywhere it had sent the toxic bacteria.
This is happening fourteen years AFTER the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed 5 Americans and paralyzed our country. What would you speculate about controls over anthrax BEFORE the attacks? Right, they were virtually non-existent.
Yet the FBI, in the face of no credible evidence of any kind, still insists that Dr. Bruce Ivins was the sole perpetrator of those attacks. The FBI’s case offers no physical evidence, no witnesses, no scientific evidence, and an impossible time line. Both the NAS and the GAO have conducted independent reviews which concluded the FBI’s claims to scientific evidence are not valid.
So we are left with two questions, both of which have important national security implications. Who really did carry out those attacks in 2001? Why does the FBI stick to its demonstrably false assertion?
CASE CLOSED offers a far more plausible scenario than anything the FBI says. The novel is told through the activities of a team of DIA investigators who re-trace the steps of the FBI, find many of the same flaws that have been exposed in real life, and then develop a scenario of why the FBI did not solve the case and who was responsible. This latter is of course fictional, but many informed readers, including one highly placed in the US Intelligence Community, have concluded that CASE CLOSED is more plausible than the story the FBI has concocted.
CASE CLOSED is available in paper ($14.95) and ebook ($3.99) at …
… amazon … (http://www.amazon.com/Case-Closed-Lewis-M-Weinstein-ebook/dp/B00YIC331Y/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1433425899&sr=1-2&keywords=weinstein+case+closed&pebp=1433438167533&perid=1M7V72CVS1R475C6A1CY),
… Barnes and Noble … (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/case-closed-lewis-m-weinstein/1016943061?ean=9780692452653),
… Absolutely Amazing Ebooks … (http://www.absolutelyamazingebooks.com/bookpages/caseclosed.html).
Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 6, 2015
I have just read Kristen Lamb’s newsletter post entitled … Anatomy of a Best-Selling Story—Structure Part One. It is brilliant and it comes at the perfect time for me as I am now editing and revising the first draft of my new novel.
You can find Kristen’s post (and much more) at her blog at … https://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/.
Kristen Lamb is the #1best selling author of “Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World”, “We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide…
Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 25, 2015
Big day today. I finished the first draft of my still untitled novel. There’s much editing to do before I ask any “early readers” to give me feedback, but it was very satisfying to write the final scene. I think it may turn out to be a powerful and emotional story.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 17, 2015
Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 8, 2015
This is a wonderful introduction to Yiddish theater in eastern Europe and New York, seen through the prism of the playwright Jacob Gordin and his play “The Jewish King Lear,” written in 1891 when it was not unusual to adapt plays from the European repertoire into Yiddish. The play was first performed on the New York stage in 1892, during the height of a massive emigration of 2.5 million Jews from eastern Europe to America.
Gordin’s setting is the celebration of Purim and the plot shows the shifting of fortune between the older and younger generation, between traditionalism and modernity, between religion and secularism. In Gordin’s view, the transition taking place on the stage is also taking place in the audience, as parents are suffering when their children no longer honor them.
Notes by Ruth Gay and Sophie Glazer convey Yiddish secular theater as a thrilling seductive experience, arousing passionate responses from audiences who saw portrayals of tension-filled situations presented in everyday language.
Also described is “Sappho,” another play by Gordin, which presents out-of-wedlock pregnancy and a proud statement by the heroine Sophia: “I made a mistake; it is nobody’s business; I take full responsibility; if I am to be a mother, I can care for my child by myself; I will be free and honorable in my actions, honorable the way I understand it, not Aunt Frade’s way and Uncle Melekh’s and all the rest.”
In my new novel, I’m hoping to show the impact of Gordin’s modern thinking and the spectacle of a riveting performance in the shtetl of Ciechanow, when a play written and first produced in America returns forty years later to its roots in eastern Europe.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 5, 2015
I extracted several lines from one of C. N. Bialik’s poems, written in the early 1900s, that beautifully express the feelings of the young Polish girl who is one of the two major fictional characters in my novel-in-progress …
Distant islands, lofty worlds
of our dreams,
they made us into strangers
wherever we went.
They made our lives hell.
Golden islands we thirsted for
as for a homeland,
all the stars hinted
with trembling light.
And on these islands we remain
friendless, like two flowers
in a desert, two lost souls searching
for an eternal loss
in a foreign land.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 27, 2015
I have only read a small part of Vital’s book, those chapters dealing with Jewish life in the years between Versailles (1919) and the invasion of Poland (1939), but there were several important insights in those chapters that have great relevance for my novel-in-process. In particular, Vital describes a change in the way European Jews were viewed …
- the norms of political behavior set by the (19th c) Enlightenment had dissolved
- post-Versailles antisemitism had a great deal to do with what had been decided at Versailles
- two related sets of conflicts spread across Europe
- (1) between those who wished to preserve the Versailles settlement versus those who wished to destroy it
- (2) between extreme nationalists who promoted the interests of their country to the status of a self-serving moral imperative and their more moderate opponents
- very little was now heard of a need to bring the Jews into accord with other citizens … of ridding the Jews of their faults of superstition, dress and customs
- what was now wanted was
- (1) removal of Jews from the societal, economic, academic and political structures into which Jews had already been admitted
- (2) removal from society
- (3) physical removal from the country altogether
- for Jewish leaders … the problem was not (as had been expected) to build on the foundations established at by the Enlightenment and enhanced at Versailles … but how to keep these foundations from being completely washed away
I don’t think Vital says it exactly this way, but it seems to me that the changes he describes were very much a backlash against the progress Jews had made after gaining civil rights throughout Europe. Increased Jewish competition with the Christian population in all economic spheres was feared and resented.
This is precisely what happened in Spain after the forced conversion of Jews around 1400 unleashed Jewish competition and then a backlash that led to the Spanish Inquisition and the Expulsion. I have written about these times in Spain in my novel THE HERETIC
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 25, 2015
There are many tears to be shed for the way Janusz Korczak died, marching at the head of his final group of orphans off to a German death camp, but one cannot fail to be thrilled by the way he lived. For 30 years, he ran an orphanage in Warsaw, out of love for the children he was able to care for and as a means to study what worked and what didn’t in the interaction with children. His ideas – a court system run by the children, a newspaper written and largely managed by the children – are astonishingly on target, even today.
Betty Lifton did a superb job of capturing the emotion and the quality of Korczak’s work.
I have already written one scene in my novel-in-progress where Anna Gorska (my main fictional Polish character) shares a pre-Hanukah play session at the orphanage, and I have now outlined another 3-4 scenes involving Korczak and the children that I think will help me communicate the great richness of the world of Polish Jewry, the memory of which has survived even the German attempt to eradicate it.
Here are some of my notes …
… children’s court … not an instant success … children did not want to tattle … finally got going … counselors as prosecutor and defense attorney; three children as judges .. any child could bring a suit against another child … Korczak learning as he watched
… using the orphanage as a laboratory, Korczak wanted to work out an educational diagnostic system … children to run their own parliament, court and newspaper … a moral education based on respect for others as a prelude to self-respect
… Korczak launched an orphanage newspaper … each Saturday, he would read aloud his special column of the week … “do you remember, when you first came here, you didn’t have any friends, and you felt sad and lonely”
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 23, 2015
This is an absolutely marvelous compendium of detailed insights into Jewish life in Polish shtetls before the holocaust. Although focused on Eishyshok, much applies to other shtetls as well.
I am well along in my new novel set in Germany and Poland during the Nazi years. Recently, though, in re-reading some of what I had written, and comparing it with scenes from my earlier novel The Heretic, I began to feel that I was not adequately capturing the emotion that is my goal. I realized that I had been (necessarily) immersed in scenes about Hitler’s rise to the Chancellorship and I understood what I was feeling, which I can summarize as “too many Nazis, not enough Jews.” It is the Jews who bring the emotion to my story, as they watch from Poland, fearful, hopeful, uncertain and confused.
Yaffa Eliach’s book is my cure. Its 800+ pages captures the sense of the shtetl, facing the future that was never to be. Without a trace of hyperbole or any hint of the maudlin, Eliach paints a warm and enduring picture of people who did not live to paint it themselves. A vibrant culture for centuries, Polish Jewry struggled with the dilemmas of the 20th century, balancing Haskalah and Zionism, secular studies and Talmud, open lives and closed. So much potential, which we all know was never to be realized.
Eliach captures it all, the mind and the heart. Now my job is to weave aspects of the lives that created that emotion into my story
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 15, 2015
Rarely have I been so angry about a book as I now am with this one. After earlier chapters with which I had no quarrel (praised in my earlier comments previously posted) I have now read the chapter dealing with the Concordat signed by the German Reich and the Vatican in 1933. The following sequence of events seems not to be in controversy.
- The Vatican (Cardinal Pacelli) had been seeking a Reich Concordat for almost a decade before Hitler became Chancellor
- Pacelli had concluded there was no chance of reaching an agreement with the democratic parliament (Reichstag); only a dictator like Hitler could offer such a deal
- Hitler was appointed Chancellor on January 30, 1933
- Hitler failed, in elections held on March 5, 1933, to achieve the two-thirds majority needed to pass an Enabling Act which would make him an absolute dictator
- the Enabling Act thus required the votes of the Catholic Center Party to become law
- the Center Party, and the German bishops, had adamantly opposed the Nazis for years, including in the March 5 elections
- on March 23, 1933, the Enabling Act was passed, with all Center Party delegates voting for it, a stunningly sudden reversal of their earlier position
- a few days later, the German bishops reversed their long-standing admonitions against the Nazi Party. A Party whose principles had been judged completely incompatible with Catholicism was now viewed quite differently … “Catholic Christians, for whom the opinion of their Church is sacred, need no particular admonition to be loyal to the legally constituted authorities, to fulfill their civic duties conscientiously, and to reject absolutely any illegal or revolutionary activity.” … in other words, it is now permissible for Catholics to be Nazis and to support the Nazi Party
- shortly thereafter, a Concordat was entered into between Germany and Rome
- a few months later, the Center Party was dissolved, leaving the Nazi Party the only legal political party in Germany
Wolf does not disagree with any of the above facts.
However, he asserts that Cardinal Pacelli was NOT involved in the Center Party’s consent to the Enabling Act, or in the declaration by the bishops, or even with the idea of a Concordat.
Wolf asserts that all initiative for those fateful decisions came from the Center Party delegates or the German bishops. He supports this assertion by stating that there is no evidence in Church archives that the initiative for any of these events came from Rome.
Wolf is correct that there is no documentation so far released by the Vatican to implicate Pacelli in the actions of the Center delegates or the bishops.
There is voluminous evidence from other sources, however, that Pacelli was continually negotiating with Hitler regarding the proposed Concordat, through Prelate Kaas for sure and perhaps directly with Goering.
There is also considerable evidence that the last minute votes by the Center delegates, and the recanting of the German bishops’ fierce admonitions against Nazism, were ordered by Pacelli and were carried out by obedient Catholics for whom the option to disobey Rome did not exist.
Wolf actually cites some of this evidence, before reaching his opposing and unsupported conclusion that Pacelli was not involved, which he bases solely on Pacelli’s later, self-serving statements to that effect, which statements I believe are blatant lies.
Wolf’s chapter is not history. It is apologetics, perhaps with the intent of trying to preserve a portion of the unsavory reputation of Pacelli, later Pius XII, who is even now being considered for sainthood by the Catholic Church.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 18, 2015
An excellent source book on illegal German rearmament, begun immediately after their defeat in WWI and clearly aimed at rebuilding an offensive war-making capability.
Consider this chilling description of a protocol for panzer attacks, developed in 1932 before Germany had the tanks to carry it out.
“Guderian envisioned a panzer thrust … led by reconnaissance troops on motorcycles probing for weak spots in the enemy line … reporting by radio to a command post … tanks would roll up for the breakthrough … once they penetrated they would keep going, plunging deep into enemy territory to strike at command, communication and supply centers … infantry would follow in trucks to secure the flanks as the tanks forged ahead … a sharp surgical strike at the foe’s central nervous system, designed to paralyze.”
Guderian led the panzer assault on Poland in 1939.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 5, 2015
Mommsen provides outstanding detail, especially about the undermining of the Weimar Republic by those who could have made it work and thus kept Hitler from power.
Democracy is always difficult, and conditions in Germany after WWI made it particularly hard to sustain the compromise and cooperation needed for a democracy to be governed well. The details and the situations are very different, but still there are many frightening parallels to the US today. Consider these excerpts from Mommsen …
… neither (President) Hindenburg nor (Chancellor) Bruning was ever prepared to invite the SPD (Socialists) to join the government … thus precluding a return to parliamentary government
… Strasser failed to recognize that Hitler was determined to avoid clear political positions and sought instead to commit the party (and Germany) to a messianic faith in his own leadership abilities
… those social groups that supported the Nazis were those who felt threatened with a loss of social status … they were not succeeding in middle class careers and were insecure
… Goebbels was intent on portraying Hitler as “our last best hope” … decisive for party cohesion … pounded into public consciousness at every opportunity … Nazi election campaigns were conducted with energy and professionalism
… (by mid 1932) the Nazi Party had exhausted its voter potential … the lack of visible achievements was causing an erosion of support … a growing number of resignations form the party … reduced financial contributions … mounting internal criticism of Hitler’s political course
… Fritz Gerlich and Ingbert Naab, editors of Der gerade Weg, criticized the confusion of the Catholic parties … which failed to take Hitler’s “absolute will to evil” seriously … the Catholic Center Party made it clear that it would not support a presidential cabinet led by Papen
… Hindenburg met with all party leaders except SPD, since Papen categorically refused to deal with SPD
* this wonderful Princeton Alumni Weekly article about John McPhee captures many of the feelings that make writing such a satisfying pleasure for me
Posted by Lew Weinstein on November 26, 2014
Writing with the Master
By Joel Achenbach ’82 … Published in the November 12, 2014, issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly
For Princeton journalists, praise from John McPhee was — and is — the ultimate reward
John McPhee ’53 has many moves as a writer, one of which he calls a “gossip ladder” — nothing more than a stack of quotations, each its own paragraph, unencumbered by attribution or context. You are eavesdropping in a crowd. You take these scraps of conversation and put them in a pile. Like this:
“A piece of writing needs to start somewhere, go somewhere, and sit down when it gets there.”
“Taking things from one source is plagiarism; taking things from several sources is research.”
“A thousand details add up to one impression.”
“You cannot interview the dead.”
“Readers are not supposed to see structure. It should be as invisible as living bones. It shouldn’t be imposed; structure arises within the story.”
“Don’t start off with the most intense, scary part, or it will all be anticlimactic from there.”
“You can get away with things in fact that would be tacky in fiction — and stuck on TV at 3 o’clock in the morning. Sometimes the scene is carried by the binding force of fact.”
The speaker in every instance is John McPhee. I assembled this particular ladder from the class notes of Amanda Wood Kingsley ’84, an illustrator and writer who, like me, took McPhee’s nonfiction writing class, “The Literature of Fact,” in the spring of 1982. In February, McPhee will mark 40 years as a Princeton professor, which he has pulled off in the midst of an extraordinarily productive career as a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of more than two dozen books.
When I meet Rick Klein ’98 at a coffee shop down the block, we examine forensically Rick’s class papers and the McPhee marginalia, the admonitions and praise from a teacher who keeps his pencils sharp. McPhee never overlooked a typo, and when Rick (now the hotshot political director at ABC News) wrote “fowl” instead of “foul,” the professor’s pencil produced a devastating noose.
McPhee’s greatest passion was for structure, and he required that students explain, in a few sentences at the end of every assignment, how they structured the piece.
(McPhee noted on a piece Rick wrote about his father: “This is a perfect structure — simple, like a small office building, as you suggest. The relationship of time to paragraphing is an example of what building a piece of writing is all about.”)
Rick reminds me that the class was pass/fail.
“You were competing not for a grade, but for his approval. You were so scared to turn in a piece of writing that John McPhee would realize was dirt. We were just trying to impress a legend,” he says.
Which is the nerve-wracking part, still. He is likely to read this article and will notice the infelicities, the stray words, the unnecessary punctuation, the galumphing syntax, the desperate metaphors, and the sentences that wander into the woods. “They’re paying you by the comma?” McPhee might write in the margin after reading the foregoing sentence. My own student work tended toward the self-conscious, the cute, and the undisciplined, and McPhee sometimes would simply write: “Sober up.”
He favors simplicity in general, and believes a metaphor needs room to breathe.
“Don’t slather one verbal flourish on top of another lest you smother them all,” he’d tell his students. On one of Amanda’s papers, he numbered the images, metaphors, and similes from 1 to 11, and then declared, “They all work well, to a greater or lesser degree. In 1,300 words, however, there may be too many of them — as in a fruitcake that is mostly fruit.”
When Amanda produced a verbose, mushy description of the “Oval with Points” sculpture on campus, McPhee drew brackets around one passage and wrote, “Pea soup.”
That one was a famously difficult assignment: You had to describe a piece of abstract art on campus. It was an invitation to overwriting. As McPhee put it, “Most writers do a wild skid, leave the road, and plunge into the dirty river.”
Novice writers believe they will improve a piece of writing by adding things to it; mature writers know they will improve it by taking things out.
Another standard McPhee assignment came on Day One of the class: Pair up and interview each other, then write a profile. It was both an early test of our nonfiction writing skills and a clever way for McPhee to get to know his students at the beginning of the semester.
McPhee’s dedication to his students was, and is, remarkable, given the other demands on his time. One never got the sense that he wished he could be off writing a magazine story for The New Yorker rather than annotating, and discussing face-to-face, a clumsy, ill-conceived, syntactically mangled piece of writing by a 20-year-old.
He met with each of his 16 students for half an hour every other week. Many of his students became professional writers, and he lined up their books on his office shelf, but McPhee never has suggested that the point of writing is to make money, or that the merit of your writing is determined by its market value. A great paragraph is a great paragraph wherever it resides, he’d say. It could be in your diary.
“I think he loves it when students run off and become field biologists in Africa or elementary school teachers,” Jenny Price ’85 tells me. She’s now a writer, artist, and visiting Princeton professor.
McPhee taught us to revere language, to care about every word, and to abjure the loose synonym. He told us that words have subtle and distinct meanings, textures, implications, intonations, flavors. (McPhee might say: “Nuances” alone could have done the trick there.)
Use a dictionary, he implored. He proselytized on behalf of the gigantic, unabridged Webster’s Second Edition, a tank of a dictionary that not only would give a definition, but also would explore the possible synonyms and describe how each is slightly different in meaning. If you treat these words interchangeably, it’s like taping together adjacent keys on a piano, he said.
Robert Wright ’79, an acclaimed author and these days a frequent cycling companion of McPhee, tells me by email, “I’d be surprised if there have been many or even any Ferris professors who care about words as much as John — I don’t mean their proper use so much as their creative, deft use, sometimes in a way that exploits their multiple meanings; he also pays attention to the rhythm of words. All this explains why some of his prose reads kind of like poetry.”
Just to write a simple description clearly can take you days, he taught us (once again I’m citing Amanda’s class notes): “If you do it right, it’ll slide by unnoticed. If you blow it, it’s obvious.”
We had to learn to read. One of his assignments is called “greening.” You pretend you are in the composing room slinging hot type and need to remove a certain amount of the text block to get it to fit into an available space. You must search the text for words that can be removed surgically.
“It’s as if you were removing freight cars here and there in order to shorten a train — or pruning bits and pieces of a plant for aesthetic and pathological reasons, not to mention length,” McPhee commanded. “Do not do violence to the author’s tone, manner, style, nature, thumbprint.”
He made us green a couple of lines from the famously lean Gettysburg Address, an assignment bordering on sadism. A favorite paragraph designated for greening was the one in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness that begins, “Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings. An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest. The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish. There was no joy in the brilliance of sunshine.” (McPhee, in assigning this, wrote: “Caution: You are approaching what may be my favorite paragraph in a lifetime of sporadic reading.”)
One time the young Bob Wright used the word “minced” in an assignment. In their bi-weekly office conference, McPhee challenged Bob to justify the word. Bob offered his reasoning. McPhee looked up “minced” in the hulking Webster’s. “You found the perfect word,” McPhee declared.
McPhee’s career coincided with the rise of “New Journalism,” but he never was really part of that movement and the liberties it took with the material. A college student often feels that rules are suffocating, that old-school verities need to be obliterated, and so some of us were tempted, naturally, to enhance our nonfiction — to add details from the imagination and produce a work of literature that’s better than “true” and existed on a more exalted plane of meaning. We’d make things up. McPhee wouldn’t stand for it.
Amanda remembers being called into his office one day: “I could tell something was wrong because he wasn’t his usual smiling self. He had me sit down and glared at me a moment. Then he asked me very sternly whether I had made up the character I had allegedly interviewed for my paper that week about animal traps and snares — I’d talked to an elderly African American friend of my grandparents, whose snare-building skills helped him survive the Depression. Once I convinced him that Oscar was a real person, McPhee sat quietly a moment, then smiled and said it was one of the best papers he had received. Those were some of the finest words I’ll ever hear.”
Perhaps there are writers out there who make it look easy, but that is not the example set by McPhee. He is of the school of thought that says a writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than for other people.
Some people joke about lashing themselves to the chair to get a piece of writing done, but McPhee actually has done it, with the belt of his bathrobe.
Here’s David Remnick ’81, the McPhee student who is now McPhee’s editor atThe New Yorker: “You were working with a practicing creative artist, a writer of ‘primary texts,’ as the scholars say, but one who was eloquent, detailed, unfancy, and clear in the way he talked about essential things: description, reporting, structure, sentences, punctuation, rhythm, to say nothing of the emotional aspects of writing — anxiety, lostness, frustration. He didn’t sugarcoat the difficulty of writing well. If anything, he highlighted the bitter-tasting terrors, he cherished them, rolled them around on his tongue. But behind all that was an immensely revealing, and rewarding, glimpse of the writing life. Not the glamour or the readings or the reviews. No, he allowed you to glimpse the process, what it meant to write alone in a room.”
Marc Fisher, my Washington Post colleague, points out that part of McPhee’s magic was getting students to slow down. “He catches adolescents at exactly the moment when we’ve been racing to get somewhere in life, and he corrals our ambition and raw skills and somehow persuades us that the wisdom, the power, and the mystery of telling people’s stories comes in good part from pressing down on the brakes, taking it all in, and putting it down on paper — yes, paper — in a way that is true to the people we meet and the lives they lead.”
I doubt many of us ever took a class that resonated so profoundly over the years. Part of it was that McPhee felt invested in our later success, regardless of our vocations. You could knock on his door years later and confer with him about your writing, your personal issues, your hopes and dreams. How many teachers are willing to be Professor For Life?
These are tough times in my business, which the people in suits now refer to as “content creation.” Revolutionary changes in how we consume information have created challenges for anyone who is committed to serious, time-consuming writing, the kind that involves revision and the search for that perfect word.
But I don’t think anyone can obliterate the beauty of a deftly constructed piece of writing. This is particularly the case if you’ve written it yourself. It’s like hitting a great golf shot; you forget the shanks and slices and remember the one exquisite 3-iron.
One day in McPhee’s class, he praised a sentence I’d written about the Louise Nevelson sculpture “Atmosphere and Environment X,” near Firestone Library. He had me read it aloud. The hook was set. I don’t always think about it consciously, but that’s pretty much what I’ve been trying to do for more than three decades — write another sentence that might win the approval of John McPhee.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 30, 2014
Marcuse provides an excellent detailed study of Dachau when it was a concentration camp from 1933-45, and its continuing role as a reminder of the German depravity.
There were several points regarding the postwar use that fit well with the observations my wife and I made at the “Terror and Fascination” exhibit in Nuremberg, which to our eyes was in many ways a glorification of Hitler. I am still frustrated that I have not been able to induce any reputable historian or journalist to visit the exhibit and see if they agree with the serious deficiencies I summarized on my author blog at … https://lewweinsteinauthorblog.com/201…
One quote from Marcuse regarding Dachau is almost identical to a video we saw in Nuremberg … one housewife exonerated Hitler … most Germans weren’t involved … Der Fuhrer couldn’t have know about it … he would not have permitted such suffering.
Marcuse also reports how the 1979 TV documentary HOLOCAUST brought challenges and changes to the three German myths of IGNORANCE, VICTIMIZATION & RESISTANCE … making possible a change in West German’s recollection of their Nazi past … the impact of HOLOCAUST reflected changes that had been building for several years as younger Germans increasingly questioned their parents and doubted their rationalizations.
RELEVANCE to my new novel …
Thoughts provoked by Marcuse’s book have turned into potential scenes and conflicts involving the characters in my novel-in-progress. Although the “story” of my book takes place between 1923 and 1945, the main characters are also involved in 1990 through what I am calling “interludes.” These interludes allow knowledge beyond the story and reflection by the characters on what they, Germany and the world learned from the Nazi experience.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 3, 2014
Chuck’s review …
The author, Lewis Weinstein, is one of my Goodreads friends. Outstanding job, Lew.
Historical fiction is my favorite genre and this is historical fiction of the first order. It is very well written, exhaustively researched and historically accurate. This book increased my knowledge of the religious conflict in 15th century Spain by one hundred fold.
The folks writing positive acknowledgements about the book include Elie Wiesel, Alan Dershowitz and Faye Kellerman.
The Heretic tells the story from the viewpoint of Gabrel Catalan, a Jewish goldsmith whose ancestors were forced to convert to Christianity under threat of death and, as a result, were known as Conversos. The story lays out the events leading to the infamous Spanish Inquisition.
Mr. Weinstein does a great job of introducing his characters and making them into real people. I heartily recommend it.
THANK YOU, CHUCK!
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 6, 2014
Here is an interview I did in 2010 regarding
the FBI’s failed case against Bruce Ivins
and the need for the American people to know the truth.
My novel CASE CLOSED, a fictional scenario I invented in 2008
with no research and no special knowledge, seems each day
to move closer to the truth than the FBI’s unprovable assertions.
purchase CASE CLOSED at …
* Father Edward Flannery: Christians must come to full recognition of the huge crime committed by Christianity against the Jews (research for Lew’s novel-in-progress)
Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 25, 2014
Father Edward Flannery, who died in 1998, was a Catholic priest who was the first director of Catholic-Jewish Relations for the U.S. Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, a position he held from 1967 to 1976. His book was published in 1965.
Flannery’s famous statement … “it is little exaggeration to state that those pages of history Jews have committed to memory are the very ones that have been torn from Christian history books” … was quoted by Dr. Eugene J. Fisher, his successor at the U.S. Bishops’ Committee, in Dr. Fisher’s comments praising my novel THE HERETIC for bringing those pages back to Christian view.
Father Flannery pulls no punches in his denunciation of the Catholic Church for its role in promulgating antisemitism and providing the foundation for Hitler’s Holocaust …
*** Pope Pius XII’s silence during the Holocaust rested on the acquiescence of the German episcopacy, which in turn rested on the still wider apathy or collusion with Nazism of German Catholics, themselves so ill prepared for any better response by accustomed antisemitic attitudes so often aided and abetted in the past by the Church itself … the Pope’s “subjects” in Germany were little prepared to heed any denunciations of Hitler and Nazism
*** Judaism lived on as a theological challenge to the Christian claim to be a new and true Israel … the threat of that challenge can hardly be overestimated
*** in the minds of the Church Fathers the only solution to the appeal of the old Israel was to discredit the Jew theologically … to depict the Jew as rejected, even cursed, by God … diabolical, the slayer of God Himself … antisemitism based on theological rivalry
*** modern racial antisemitism – as exemplified by the Nazi regime – would not have been possible without centuries of anti-Judaic and antisemitic precedents … from the beginning, Hitler had his target, the Jews, already set up, defenseless, and discredited
Flannery’s conclusion sets a monumental challenge
for contemporary Christians …
*** Christians must come to full recognition of the preponderant role played by the Christian churches in the development of antisemitism … and the huge crime committed by Christianity against the Jews … deplorable … should stain the souls of all Christians … antisemitism is a denial of Christian faith, a failure of Christian hope, a malady of Christian love.
* the questions in this 4 year old video remained unanswered … the scenario of the 2001 anthrax attacks presented in my novel is still “more plausible” than the one asserted by the FBI … why do we still not know who perpetrated the 2001 anthrax attacks?
Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 13, 2014
I first posted these questions to YouTube 4 years ago. The questions have not been answered. Meanwhile, the FBI’s case against Dr. Bruce Ivins has been totally demolished on my Case Closed blog (over 323,000 clicks so far) …
… but the FBI has never responded to any of these issues, continuing to assert an impossible set of allegations. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) says it is conducting a review of the FBI’s investigation, but they are years behind their initially communicated completion date. Nobody seems to care.
My novel CASE CLOSED presents a scenario which many, including a highly placed member of our Intelligence Community, say is “more plausible” than the one still put forward by the FBI.
I can imagine three reasons for the FBI’s failure to adjust its views
in the face of overwhelming refutation of its position …
- The FBI has more evidence against Dr. Ivins but is, for some undisclosed reason, withholding that evidence … POSSIBLE BUT NOT SO LIKELY
- The FBI, despite the most expensive and extensive investigation in its history, has not solved the case and has no idea who prepared and mailed the anthrax letters that killed 5 Americans in 2001 … EVEN LESS LIKELY
- The FBI knows who did it (not Dr. Ivins) but is covering up the actual perpetrators, for undisclosed reasons … THE MOST LIKELY SCENARIO
This case is definitely not closed!
purchase CASE CLOSED at amazon
Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 7, 2014
I had the privilege today of addressing the DUVAL lunch group, of which I am a member, as part of our ongoing authors’ series. Out of 16 members of DUVAL, 8 are published authors, so this group always presents a humbling challenge. I talked briefly about my 4 published novels and then about my work in process. Our venue today was the deck at the Pier House, a longtime Key West locale for authors and drinkers.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 24, 2013
The Heretic and the sequel The Pope’s Conspiracy …
available together as a single kindle edition
The Catalan Family Saga … $3.99
A Good Conviction … $3.99
Cased Closed … $2.99
Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 23, 2013