Sunday, 21 July 2013

The Kindly Ones

Anybody looking for that elusive 'summer read', a book to capture your attention while you are ostensibly doing nothing, would do well to read 'The Kindly Ones'. An author who has the balls to write a grand narrative (think Gone with the Wind, War and Peace, The Iliad, etc) about the situation of the German Einsatzgruppen in WW2 took on the most demanding of tasks, and this book is compelling, just what you need on the lounger or brooding as you stare at the sunset. It is compelling because it confronts you with the thoughts of evil as we generally perceive them, and stunningly converts them in to a morality tale to make every reader question their own motives in their everyday. At the beginning Littell makes the cunning observation that war removes you of the option not to kill. As you read on petty moralists (working with hindsight) will squirm, or find themselves simply mown down by the sheer massiveness of the bureaucracy, the clamour of interpretation and misinterpretation, that swamps the everyday advance of an army on the scale of Barbarossa. The book is brilliant at highlighting Nazi ideology as felt within a stifling, shifting day to day reality. Just the right fuel for a cocktail hour or ten.

1 comment:

  1. Did you ever see an Elem Klimov film called 'Come and See', or 'Idi i smotri' in Russian? Seems to cover some of the same subject matter, and without a doubt the most shocking and gruesome film I've ever watched- and yes, I'd recomment it...