A detailed history of a group of Protestant German pioneers in the Holy Land.
For readers unfamiliar with the German Temple Society, whose members emigrated from Germany to Palestine with the aim of creating the kingdom of God in the Holy Land, this book provides a wealth of information. It begins with the group’s roots in the German Lutheran Church in the 19th century and follows them through their early, difficult days in Palestine and into a thriving community based around agriculture before their eventual removal from Israel in the mid-1940s. Theirs is a story fraught with peril and hardship, whether combating outbreaks of malaria in the earliest days of the settlement or enduring forced internments during two world wars. It’s also a story of great success; the Templers started with virtually nothing and brought forth a thriving community, the architectural remnants of which can still be seen. So it is all the more disappointing that the book does so little to imbue this history of the Templers with the drama their tale so richly deserves. While the book reveals myriad details about the Templers’ existence—everything from municipal tax rates to the building of a bowling alley—these facts become difficult to assimilate with virtually no entry into the personal lives of individuals. Photographs and occasional excerpts from diaries and letters provide a rare relief from the otherwise pedantic recounting of such things as agricultural techniques and outlines of a typical school day. As a writer, Glenk (Shattered Dreams at Kilimanjaro, 2007) does not possess the flair of a novelist or journalist who might find a way to present all these facts through the lens of a more compelling narrative. It is the deft combination of fact and story that makes the reading of history a special favorite among lovers of nonfiction. And it is, unfortunately, the absence of story in this text that readers will find most lacking.
Satisfying to information seekers, but disappointing to those in search of a good read.