After reading Hitler’s Judas I really had to wonder whether Tom Lewis missed his true calling.Maybe Tom should have been penning his stories thirty-eight years prior instead of conducting orchestras around Europe and the United States.But then again, it also just may be that his experience in nearly four decades of conducting these symphonies is what makes this man such a master plot maker in his second artistic career.I am certain that the dual skills of organization and creativity which are required of a good maestro, and which Tom Lewis would certainly have honed through the years, are just the sharpening of the saw when it came to his skill with pen and paper.Additionally, I can only imagine that his time spent in Europe also would have given Tom a deeper insight to the German mindset which obviously helped in his character development throughout Hitler’s Judas.
Hitler’s Judas is a well spun tapestry of characters, some willing and others unwilling, who are manipulated by Martin Bormann, a man whose life story will live in the infamy of the Third Reich.Tom Lewis sets everyone in the middle of a master plan, all caught in a web spun by the venomous spider that Bormann played out to be.Like Napoleon, Martin Bormann meticulously measures all obstacles and weighs alls options for achieving his selfish goals.He then creates an elaborate chain of events to be set in motion at his own pleasure, events that deeply affect the lives of people who unwittingly become his stooges.Most of the hapless characters in Tom Lewis’s story live in a state of blind reaction as Martin Bormann plays God with their lives, dispassionately controlling people and situations as a skillful puppeteer who is putting on an elaborate show.
The cornerstone of the novel is set when Bormann, who we know as Hitler’s right hand man, clearly sees the doom and inglorious defeat which is foregone consequence of Adolf Hitler’s terribly ill advised assault aimed at the heart of Stalin’s Soviet Union.Martin Bormann plans to escape, but not as Rudolf Hess did with a poorly conceived dive into Allied territory.No, Martin Bormann plans to leave as a wealthy, yet incognito, German émigré.But his blueprint for escape requires human capital – a commodity that in his position Bormann found to be very cheap to come by.Martin Bormann plays with people’s lives, from his girlfriend to Nazi functionaries to a down on his luck actor to a U-Boat commander – and even der Führer himself!
Without giving away too much of the story line I would like to say that I was a bit interested to see who would have been a Judas to Adolf Hilter when I first picked up this book.But the truth of the matter is that Martin Bormann’s character is not a Judas in the classical sense.Bormann was not a betrayer tragically causing a hero to meet his fateful yet undeserved end.Adolf Hitler was no hero and Tom Lewis did not make him out to be one.What I did end up with was a sense that the author’s reluctant hero was not one person, but collectively the German people who were forced to play the pawns in Bormann’s game of chess.With Bormann the game was winner take all.
Tom Lewis is quite successful in portraying Martin Bormann’s ability to get away with his deviant schemes not only because of his cunning, but also because of the greater ongoing uber plot; that of the German people struggling against the inevitable – their defeat in a war that never should have been.An old saying states “opportunity makes the honest man a thief”. Tom Lewis added Bormann’s corollary “an evil genius sees no theft – all is his for the taking.”
As with any good plot, several conflicts were deftly constructed in this story.Edda Winter’s willingness to give her soul to Bormann in exchange for temporary wealth and status and her expectation of Bormann’s help to achieve international stardom on the silver screen.Horst von Hellenbach’s heroism in the face of his serious doubts in the Nazi leadership and of the doomed future of his homeland.Horst’s brother Harald’s blind patriotism to the Nazi cause is in direct conflict with his personal feelings of impotence as his service is dwarfed by his twin brother’s achievements in battle.Elisabeth Kroll’s veiled decision to choose a man who positions her bask in the spotlight rather than to seriously choose her husband with her heart.And Klaus Berger’s simple struggle to survive by being forced to act as a double for Bormann under the constant threat of instant death – which is a job that Berger does not undertake in service to his country but rather under coercion in order to further Bormann’s own selfish and deadly scheme.
In the end Tom Lewis sets up the story line that will bring us into the plot of his third book in his Pea Island Gold trilogy.And in the process Lewis brings the story home to the shores of his native North Carolina.The climax brings an unanticipated resolution of many of these aforementioned conflicts, although some of Bormann’s victims are left hanging like sheep deep in the dark forest at night.I must admit that I did not get a chance to read either of the other two books in this trilogy yet but Lewis’s well designed story line has really whet my appetite for more.I can only imagine by reading Hitler’s Judas that Tom Lewis had to be one hell of an orchestral conductor as well.
Hold on!I am checking Amazon.com for the other two books now…
The above review was contributed by: Gary Dale Cearley: Gary Dale is an expatriate American who chooses to write about controversial material. His subject matter tends to run the gamut from historical subjects to biography and even humor. Originally from Arkansas, he has spent several years in Korea as well as Vietnam and is now living in Thailand. Click Here to read an interview with Gary. Click Here To read more of Gary's Reviews.
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