Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"Samson: A Savior Will Rise" by Shawn Hoffman

This book is highly gripping, and the best and worst part of it is that it is based on real-life events.  Samson is a family man with a beautiful wife and children.  Problem is he's Jewish, the Third Reich is in power, and it's the onset of World War II.  Living in a ghetto, Samson and his family are deported to a concentration camp.  This is after Samson--a boxing champion--assaults Nazi guards who are beating up a young Jewish boy.  This one decision to intervene in someone's life will eventually cost Samson everything.  Once in the camp, Hoffman goes into detail following each member of Samson's family as they are tortured.  Mengele is a crazed Nazi scientist--if you could even call him that--that is enraged at Samson's sheer defiance and bravado.  When Samson is called to box for Nazi entertainment, he talks smack and challenges the notion that Jews are inferior.  If he is so inferior, Samson argues, why is he always winning boxing matches?  Eventually, Mengele rips Samson's family apart in an effort just to cause Samson emotional pain.  Based on thorough research, Hoffman describes some of the brutality inflicted on Samson's family.  The sad part is that these acts were committed on many Jews in the Holocaust.  An interesting side character is Kolbe, a Polish Catholic monk.  He is in the concentration camp because he hid Jews.  Kolbe often speaks of God and faith while Samson either listens intently or openly questions Kolbe.  This book will really get readers thinking.  It's easy to have faith in God when things are going well.  But for victims of the Holocaust, we see in this book how it is not so easy to tell them, "just have faith."  This book has a happy ending and a sad one all at once.  Starved, ill-rested, beaten to the point of death, and hanging on by stitches and scabs, Samson is both a victor and a loser.  Free and living in South America with illegal papers, Mengele is both a victor and a loser.  But all of that depends on what your definition of winning is.  I highly recommend this book as an eye-opener to all.  I just don't recommend that you read it right before going to bed--it will haunt you.  

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