K's Reviews > Kasztner's Train: The True Story of an Unknown Hero of the Holocaust

Kasztner's Train by Anna Porter
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's review
May 16, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: holocaust, readablenonfiction, intense-sad-dark-or-bleak, should-ve-been-shorter

Never having read Perfidy (I know, shame on me), I first learned about Kasztner when I read The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust. My curiosity was aroused. What was up with this guy? Was he a hero? A villain? So when I noticed this book in a secondhand bookstore, I couldn't resist. Given its length, I was hoping it would shed some light on this complicated story.

Unfortunately, the amount of detail detracted and muddied the picture for me rather than clarifying things. The book gives a great deal of background before commencing with the stories of Joel Brand, who attempted unsuccessfully to barter with the Nazis for Jewish lives, and Reszo Kasztner, who managed to convince a Nazi officer to rescue selected Jews only to be vilified and subsequently murdered a decade later in Israel for his collaboration with this Nazi. Brand and Kasztner's stories are told through numerous anecdotes describing their various interactions at every stage, and it was hard to see the forest through the trees. A timeline might have been helpful; as it was, I couldn't follow all the interchanges or keep track of the various characters who played minor or major roles.

The author also appeared less than objective, painting Kasztner as a martyr and a victim of courtoom theatrics, rhetoric, and political agendas rather than shedding light on some of the factors complicating his story. At the same time, Perfidy has also been described as a highly biased account so there may simply not be a whole lot of objective material out there. The story is confusing on a variety of levels, both in terms of contradictory information and in terms of the conflicting feelings it arouses. Unfortunately this book reflects the story's confusing nature rather than elucidating it.
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Reading Progress

May 16, 2011 – Started Reading
May 16, 2011 – Shelved
May 16, 2011 – Shelved as: holocaust
May 16, 2011 – Shelved as: readablenonfiction
May 17, 2011 –
page 28
May 21, 2011 –
page 148
May 25, 2011 –
page 218
May 26, 2011 –
page 260
May 28, 2011 – Shelved as: intense-sad-dark-or-bleak
May 28, 2011 – Shelved as: should-ve-been-shorter
May 29, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Rachayl (new)

Rachayl Who shames you for having not read Perfidy? I only hear how the world would be a better place if people would un-read Perfidy...

message 2: by K (new) - rated it 2 stars

K Very true. I feel, though, that as an aspiring well-informed Zionist I should be aware of what the other side says.

message 3: by Rachayl (new)

Rachayl I am sure you are informed enough to have pre-un-read Perfidy... just not used to hearing someone apologize for not having read it...

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