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Blood of the Roses, by Alex Gabbard

Review, by Sunni Maravillosa

Each month Sunni Maravillosa and the staff of Free-Market.Net award the Freedom Book of the Month to one work of fiction or non-fiction that we judge to be the most valuable, interesting new contribution to the literature of liberty.

http://www.free-market.net/features/bookofthemonth/ (not indexed)


Freedom Book of the Month for December, 2002:
Blood of the Roses, by Alex Gabbard
GPPress 2002, hardcover, 247 pp.
ISBN: 0962260878

Reviewed by Sunni Maravillosa

It's December, a traditional time of celebration for many people around the world -- a time when people seem kinder, more considerate of others. I'd like to offer a book that speaks to those better elements in our humanity while also celebrating freedom ... but if such a book was published recently, I've not seen it.

Instead, my mind has been filled with the ugly imagery of Hitler's rise to dominate Germany and World War II, and the unwavering courage of those who dared to resist him at the center of his powerlust -- the resistance group known as the White Rose. Alex Gabbard has combined meticulous research and a fictional story to create an historical novel that is powerfully, movingly wrought.

"Blood of the Roses" will most likely not offer any revelations for individuals who are familiar with the story of the White Rose, and its principals, Hans and Sophie Scholl, who were caught along with Cristoph Probst, tried in a German kangaroo court, and executed. I've read accounts of their resistance, and honestly did not expect to be taken by an "historical novel." Gabbard weaves a slow, inexorable magic in creating a fictional companion to the Scholls, who recounts his youth, maturation in the Hitler Youth, and finally service in the war in flashback form.

The power of "Blood of the Roses" isn't in its historical accuracy. It lies in what Gabbard doesn't tell, doesn't show, or leaves in shadow for the reader to grasp by way of contrast or implication. The narrative shifts from the characters' happy childhoods in the small town of Forchtenberg to the narrator's increasingly narrow, suspicious views, brought about by his never-quite-complete indoctrination into Nazism. Much of the story focuses on his life and choices, particularly after the Scholl family moves away from Forchtenberg. Their reappearance in his life is as shafts of beaming sunlight through stormcloud, and it highlights Gabbard's skill, that he can portray "foredoomed" characters so convincingly in such a manner. The fictional friend, working so hard to be transparent to the Nazis he comes to loathe, becomes almost cypherlike in his own story, so caught up is he in the machinery of war and its horrors.

Toward the close of the book, the friend begins to muse more explicitly about what's happened to freedom, and the wonderful Germany he and the Scholls so loved as children. During the Scholls' and Probst's trial he comes to an unsettling realization:

"I was struck with the question, 'How could so many be so blind?' I then came to the unsettling realization that the people in whose company I stood chose to be blind. They were not interested in truth, nor were they guided by truth. My Germans; what have you become?" (p.228)

And later in the same scene:

"I recognized that the entire Reich was so fearful of the power inherent in individual freedom that it had to squelch the merest suggestion of freedom as sedition and to do so at the earliest opportunity. In spite of outward power and solidarity, Nazism existed on so tenuous and fragile a government that mere words against its precepts were regarded with utmost alarm." (p. 230)

The parallels to American society today are chilling. "Blood of the Roses" deserves to be widely read solely on the basis of its wonderful presentation of an inspiring story of freedom. For those who care to see the truth, it also serves as a cautionary tale of homeland security.

Order "Blood of the Roses" from Amazon.com:
http://www.free-market.net/rd/488282363.html, $22.95 (not indexed)

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