HOSTAGES by Stefan Heym
Kirkus Star


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This is Janoshik's story -- and therefore it differs from the run-of-the-mill story of underground activities in Central Europe. For Janoshik was simply one of the little people who make up the underground -- who take orders, and carry them through and give humanity and significance to the fight waged against the oppressor, against the gangsters in control, against the theories they demonstrate, the brutalities they glory in. Janoshik covered his real sterling worth with a front of shabby inadequacies, as he carried on his ""cover job"" as lowest menial in an inn in Prague. He had a job to do in the chain which would lead to the destruction of some munition barges bound for the Russian front. And ill luck intervened, with the disappearance of a sodden weakling, one of the German officers dining above stairs. Janoshik was the last man to see him alive -- and his garrulous idiocy did not save him from being swept into the net as one of the hostages -- fifteen men to did for one German -- (who perhaps had not cared to live.) The Commissioner saw in this action a chance for glory; for into the net had fallen an industrialist, a miniature Quisling, but a man better out of the way. The others of Janoshik's small unit included an actor, a youth who had loved the actor's wife, a psychiatrist. And the experience, in horrible closeness to death and each other, laid bare their souls. There is a love story, too. There is adventure. But chiefly there is the underlying philosophy that makes the agony take on meaning. The author is a German refugee, a journalist of note. This is a significant book.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1942
Publisher: Putnam