An engaging, if somewhat facile, novel of wartime.

Save Me Twice


Dustin tells the story of two brothers caught in the horrors of World War II in this debut novel.

When Nazi SS officers show up at his mother’s house in the middle of the night, 16-year-old Karl Elheusch knows they’ve come for him and his brothers. It’s October 1944, and Germany’s defenses are collapsing on all fronts. Hitler has ordered that all German boys over the age of 12 be pressed into military service to bolster the nation’s depleted armed forces. Sixty years later, Karl’s daughter, Ellie, waits at Washington Dulles International Airport to pick him up; it’s his first trip to the United States from Germany. But the elderly Karl suffers from chest pains soon after he arrives, so Ellie takes him to a hospital, where she learns that his heart is enlarged and will require a stent. While dozing, Karl remembers his time during the war. He and his brother, Hans, were forced to man the eastern front and were eventually captured by the Russians—an enemy that was much feared for its callous treatment of prisoners. Karl became separated from Hans and managed to escape, only to fall into the hands of American forces. As a prisoner of war, he was forced to assist in the cleanup of the Mauthausen concentration camp, where he confronted German atrocities against people he once knew. Concerned for Hans’ safety and unsure of his own fate, Karl underwent psychological torments that stayed with him for decades to come. Dustin writes in a plain but effective prose, communicating the details of Karl’s life in grim simplicity: “Prepare yourselves,” another POW warns Karl at one point. “They took a few of us to Mauthausen yesterday morning. I saw piles and piles of skeletons, dead after dead.” In an afterword, the author reveals that the novel was based on a true story, and it reads as such. This isn’t always for the best, however, as the larger themes of trauma and regret get somewhat lost in the particulars of Karl’s biography, and the serendipitous way that Karl’s past merges with his present feels almost jokey in tone. Even so, readers who are interested in semihistorical World War II stories will likely enjoy Karl’s tale.

An engaging, if somewhat facile, novel of wartime.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5374-7507-3

Page Count: 266

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2016

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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