Kirkus Star


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A hard-boned, sustained and tragic story of doomed men in Europe between wars, caught in the midst of consolidating dictatorships, struggling to perpetuate the ideals of the Communist party. Sperber's tremendous canvas and use of dialogue to restate themes is reminiscent of Koestler, although unlike Koestler, Sperber's characters in this novel are men without faces, or personalities, effective here, since the nucleus of Party leaders in Germany whose destinies shape the action are drained of self, shaped toward an ideal they cannot realize. During the years in which the action takes place (1932-37) the Party members -- Faber, consumed with a determination to make the dream come true; Goeben, apprentice trouble shooter; Vasso, professional revolutionary; and Soennecke, weathered by experience but expediently silent on deviations from the Party -- see the encroaching fascism of Germany, the failure of local organizing through indifference of the workers, the opposition of police and Church leaders who side with the Fascists to preserve their power, and the change in Moscow from progressive idealism to fascistic conservationism to which these men who have devoted themselves to an ideal are not necessary. Finally the men are scattered and Vasso and Soennecke are executed by the organization to which they had dedicated themselves. Only Faber's friend, Professor Stetten, is left intact, ethically speaking, although his belief that ""man is unique and his one life is unique"" falls on barren soil in a functional totalitarian world. An affecting achievement. Koestler market.

Pub Date: March 15th, 1951
Publisher: Doubleday