THE MAN WHO PLAYED GOD by Robert St. John

THE MAN WHO PLAYED GOD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Fact and fiction are skillfully blended in this holding panoramic novel of the Jews of Hungary, of the fantastic negotiations with the Nazi authorities to rescue as many Jews as possible from deportation and extermination in concentration camps, and of Andor Horvath, the ""man who played God"". Inevitably, this story will be compared with Exodus -- and there are numerous parallels. St. John writes better than Leon Uris- but lacks the sense of pace, perhaps because he is more biographer and historian than novelist. But where in the Uris book, a ship, the Exodus, became a symbol of the treachery -- and the dedication- attendant on manipulating escape, so St. John has used an escape train as his symbol. There is more integration with Israeli history in Exodus; here only the last section in which the central character, Andor Horvath, is being tried for collaboration with the Nazis and for the death of millions of Hungarian Jews who failed to be rescued, is the setting in Israel. But where Uris -- through dramatization and compassion has made even his revolutionary characters moving and appealing. St. John has been almost too objective for his own ends. Andor Horvath (quite evidently built on Rudolph Kastner) emerges as an involved personality, driven as much by ago as by his basic urgency to rescue his fellow Jews. His rationalization of the ends justifying the means, his forceful courage, are not enough to offset his undoubted collaboration. Nonetheless, after reading this book one finds it difficult to accept the biased record of the Kastner case in Ben Hecht's Perfidy (Messner- 1961- see report p. 937). Robert St. John has been eminently successful in presenting another view of a controversial issue, perhaps a fairer one.

Pub Date: Jan. 4th, 1962
Publisher: Doubleday