NIGHT OF THE AUROCHS by Dalton Trumbo

NIGHT OF THE AUROCHS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This novel, Trumbo's only other besides Johnny Got His Gun, was never completed -- and here it is presented in its preparatory state: drafted chapters, notes, pens‚es, plans, chronologies, etc. There are glimmers of an interesting idea: examining the essential sanity of the Nazis, epitomized by the fictional protagonist, one Ludwig Richard Johann Grieben, SS-man and once commandant of Auschwitz-Birkenau. These Nazis are seen as originally, personally ""sane,"" but simultaneously insane with power over others: power over small animals, then girls, a wife, a dancer-mistress, and finally naked Jews. Trumbo's not-very-original point, of course, is that this cruelty is in all of us but only sometimes is given historical sanction to be released. Still, a powerful concept -- but, excepting one scene of sexual torment and female wiles, the actual renditions of the idea here are quite poor. Trumbo turns upon his material a baroque and upholstered style, a didactic and heavy-handed approach that sinks everything within the first page or two. There's every indication, in fact, that this would have been a dreadful book, and good intentions notwithstanding, Trumbo is probably ill-served by having it served to us piece-meal and posthumously.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1979
Publisher: Viking