WALLENBERG by Kati Marton


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As genuinely great a hero as Raoul Wallenberg was, three books about him in less than a year does begin to approach glut. Marton's biography adds no new information or hypothesis as to what became of Wallenberg after the Russians took him from Budapest in January 1945; but, more than either the Bierman or the Werbell and Clarke volumes, it does spaciously dramatize Wallenberg's valor in saving thousands of Jews. Though the style is close to news-documentary (""The Wallenbergs are inextricably entwined with the transformation of Stockholm into a graceful, cosmopolitan city, combining the colors of Central Europe with the architectural elegance of the West""), the portraiture of place--Budapest--is knowledgeable and specific: you have a valuable sense of the streets Wallenberg dashed through on his life-saving missions, a sepulchral feel for the gravesite that the Arrow Cross thugs and Eichmann's SS turned the Danube into--as, again and again, they'd shoot the middle member of a handcuffed trio of Jews so that the others were dragged down and drowned. But as to speculation on Wallenberg's subsequent fate, Marten has nothing new to add. The possibility that he was transporting jewelry and cash when the Russians arrested him, raised by Werbell and Clarke, goes unmentioned; and their conclusion that he is now dead is neither endorsed nor refuted. A simple, vivid reconstruction, then, with conceivably a YA appeal.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1982
Publisher: Random House