Synopses & Reviews
At a time when the issues of identity, immigration, and class remain both universally important and enormously controversial, this book is an accessible and captivating tale of one boys historically famous experience in the extraordinary setting of roiling pre-WWII Paris. On November 7, 1938, a small, slight 17-year-old Polish-German Jew named Herschel Grynszpan entered the German embassy in Paris and shot dead a consular official. Three days later, in supposed response, Jews across Germany were beaten, imprisoned, and killed, their homes, shops, and synagogues smashed and burned—Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. Based on the historical record and told through his “letters” from German prisons, this novel begins in 1936, when 15-year-old Herschel flees Germany, and continues through his show trial, in which the Nazis sought to demonstrate through his actions that Jews had provoked the war. But Herschel throws a last-minute wrench in the plans, bringing the Nazi propaganda machine to a grinding halt and provoking Hitler to postpone the trial and personally give an order regarding Herschels fate.
About the Author
Joseph Matthews is a former criminal defense lawyer and public defender in San Francisco who engaged in the criminal/political cases of anti-Vietnam War activists, Mission District barrio residents, and prisoners during the California prison rebellions of the 1970s. He taught at the law school of the University of California-Berkeley and is the author of the novel Shades of Resistance, the short story collection The Lawyer Who Blew Up His Desk, and the coauthor of the political analysis Afflicted Powers: Capital and Spectacle in a New Age of War. He lives in San Francisco.