A LAMB TO SLAUGHTER by Jan & Dirk Ayelt Kooiman Montyn


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Enough agony and adventure for a dozen lives packed into a fastpaced, breathless, often gripping book. Montyn (a successful painter very well served here by novelist-co-author Kooiman and translator Dixon) was born about 1925 to a joyless, conservative, Calvinist family in a Dutch village called Oudewater. This peaceful tedium was shattered by the Nazi occupation. The naive, apolitical Montyn dodged compulsory factory work by volunteering to go to Hitler Youth Camps in Austria, where he and his lover, Hein, were recruited by a femme fatalesecret agent, who got them to sabotage a Nazi supply train. Later Montyn drifted into the German Navy and just missed drowning when his torpedo boat was sunk in the Baltic. From there he was unceremoniously drafted into the Army and shipped to Courland, where he lived through the horrors of the winter of 1944 on the Eastern Front and saw Hein die right before his eyes. Seriously wounded, sent back to Liepaya (his hospital boat was torpedoed), Montyn risked his life by going A.W.O.L. to Holland, returned to Austria, got to Dresden just in time to see it annihilated, fought by the Oder (where he killed a Russian soldier), and finally fled West to surrender to the Americans. In later episodes he escaped the P.O.W. camp, joined the French Foreign Legion, deserted, did time for his Nazi years, fought in the Korean War, led a wild, drunken life in the Dutch Army, ran orgies for his superior officers, had a mental breakdown, escorted war orphans and maimed children from Southeast Asia to Europe and America, was captured and nearly shot by the South Vietnamese after entering Vietnam with the Pathet Lao--among other things. The outline of Montyn's narrative gets ragged and confused toward the end; and, though it does come to a resolution (after a tragic homosexual love and a failed heterosexual affair, he marries happily and has a daughter), the rapid succession of vivid, painful pictures obscures its autobiographical shape. Still, a whirlwind of a story, told with passion and art.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1984
Publisher: Viking