TORRENTS OF WAR by Igor Sentjurc


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Prayer for an Assassin was a brutal, powerful short novel, more distinguished for its portraits and its backgrounds than its plot. (Published by Doubleday in 1959- and reviewed on p. 236.) This is Sentjurc's second novel to be translated and published here. A Jugoslavian, who served in the German army from 1943 on, Sentjurc writes with sure knowledge and understanding of the education of a young German doctor in the horrors of war. Karl Braun is sent to the Russian front as the German army crumbles after Stalingrad. As the book ends he is at the front as defeat passes into rout, as the wounded are left behind and as, finally, it becomes every man for himself. The battle scenes are superb. The military types are penetratingly explored -- from the last of the Junkers, Lieutenant von Andres (who has brought his family's glassware and silver with him to the front) -- down to the fanatical Corporal Fink (whose castration by a bursting shell has made him mad to kill) -- to the fat old general and the career officer whose ambition is sparked by a drive to rise above his humble beginnings each one represents a different attitude to war, all of which Braun feels impelled to reject. We have here the contrast between the healer and the killer; Braun learns more of the other aspects of the life through his love for Elfie, whose father represents the old aristocracy. Sentjure is less successful in his portraits of the people at home, those who claim to the Nazis but still support them and are shocked by Braun's rejection of war. But the whole book makes a signal contribution to the shelf of war novels. Already a success in Europe, Sentjure is not to be overlooked.

Publisher: David McKay