Against All Odds
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 Kahn--pugnacious world-class shipping magnate and survivor of the Nazi holocaust--presents a fascinating personal history displaying equal parts of bravado and bravery. As a young man Kahn was a neighbor of Anne Frank's and just a few years older than the celebrated child diarist. In his opinion (and he is expansive in his opinions), Anne might have lived if only the Franks had taken their fate in their own hands--as he did. After a particularly aggressive opening, in which he sketches in his present happy circumstances, Kahn describes his painful childhood. His distant mother abandoned the family when he was four; his father seemed to him an ineffectual blowhard and never earned his respect. A sad, difficult childhood, it seems, prepared Kahn for the necessity of living by his wits. The wily teenager, frequently with the aid of friends and strangers, Jewish and Christian, repeatedly eluded the Nazis, determined to get to England to carry on the fight, and convinced that ``doing everything in one's power to save one's own neck'' was ``the only reasonable'' strategy open to an adolescent alone and at terrible risk in enemy territory. The tale of his long flight across Europe is one of lofty adventure, punctuated by hairbreadth escapes and occasional sex. Kahn finished the war as a Dutch naval officer. Then his career took him to sea in the service of Israel, where, his faith in the Almighty damaged by the Holocaust, he found lasting belief in the Jewish people. His story ends aboard his yacht, with a faithful factotum preparing drinks in the background while the entrepreneur muses about his life. In a rapid-fire, tough-guy mode, Kahn (with evident writerly help from his collaborator, Israeli journalist and translator Halkin) speaks with the authority of a special kind of Dutch uncle. If there is more than a hint of hubris, it may not be entirely unearned. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 965-229-174-9
Page count: 264pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1997


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