JUNKERS by Piers Paul Read


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Mr. Read wrote the diverting Game in Heaven With Tussy Marx (1967) and here fable yields to realities as a young Englishman, one generation removed from the war and seemingly disengaged, examines certain aspects of its morality. Attached to the Foreign Office in 1963, he is presumably working on the dossier of one of three Junker brothers, Klaus von Rummelsberg, when he falls in love with Suzi, the apparent protegee of another brother, Helmuth. Thus in insets, unconventional but less capricious than the technique of the earlier book, the story of the Junkers is told as, in spite of their particularly close family affiliations, they took different positions both during and after the war. Indeed Klaus, fulfilling his ""historical hereditary"" duty joined as a Party organizer to serve under the monstrous Strepper who commits some of the worst atrocities. In time it appears that Suzi was Strepper's daughter, although always in the custodial care of one von Rummelsberg or another, and this will impair the romance of the narrator-spectator although by the close he has not only accommodated to her background but now is willing to collaborate (treasonably) with the von Rummelsbergs. Throughout, the relation of political judgments to sexual capacities is a subtle area of investigation (one of the brothers for example cannot bed a Jewess) and one wonders if his young Englishman is not somewhat unorthodox and cavalier in his whole approach to the German war guilt. Or whether class distinctions are not sometimes unduly operative. Whatever, Mr. Reed is a writer with an original turn of phrase and mind and the love story here is very persuasive.

Pub Date: April 10th, 1969
Publisher: Knopf