FAREWELL TO EUROPE by Walter Laqueur


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A continuation of Laqueur's first novel of last year, The Missing Years--in which a Berlin-Jewish physician, Dr. Lasson, lived through the Second World War while staying in place, an amazing survival even though marred by losses (his gentile wife to cancer, his two brave teenage sons to an escaped safety in Switzerland). As the sequel begins, Berlin has been occupied by the Allies and Lasson is resuming a practice. A lawyer friend, relocated to America before the Holocaust and now a journalist, returns for a look around; the Russians start to act up, administratively, with a very heavy hand; there's the craw-sticking reappearance, in films, of actors and directors who only a few years earlier were openly participating in Nazi propaganda. Thus, each of Laqueur's chapters highlights another irony, sadness, or hard-earned postwar lesson--but with no strong narrative thread. And Lasson's sons, grown up now, one to Palestine and the other to the US, are featured as well--again to the purposes of no large storytelling plan but simply as cameos. A political historian more than a novelist, Laqueur not surprisingly takes the convolutions of personal lives within history with a certain sad, wise calmness; the tone is restrained and so-be-it throughout. A certain indulgence, then, is asked of the reader--especially for the many quietly shaped, essayistic opinions that give the book its bulk. More like memoirs (veiled) than fiction, and not nearly so inherently dramatic as The Missing Years; but readers interested in the postwar atmosphere in Germany (and other selected spots) will find thoughtful, literate recollections here.

Pub Date: April 29th, 1981
Publisher: Little, Brown