Deftly penned and meticulously researched… An immersive historical tale.
Hilton demonstrates his expert researching skills, shedding light on the Austrian mindset during the World War I while exploring the rise of the Nazi party and impending dictatorship under Hitler, and the events that eventually led to the Holocaust. The turbulent years of World War I have wreaked havoc in peoples’ lives. The Viennese family of Viktor Baur is not spared either. Struggling to feed the family when money is worthless, Viktor and Else are doing their best to keep Fritz and Elke, their two children safe. But when the siblings get caught up in Hitler’s anti-Semitism propaganda, their once peaceful lives become chaotic, throwing the family into the whirlwind of death and grief. The third-person narrative, including excerpts from personal letters and journal entries, covers various characters’ backstories. Hilton’s prose is crisp and characterization expert. Elke shines through and through. She seems to have been somewhat blind to the intensity of the Nazis’ anti-Jewish propaganda and considers the Jews responsible for the economic slump. The intrigues in which she is caught up give the novel both tension and suspense. The scholarly Victor remains an intriguing character. Else, though doesn’t get much space in the story, is equally compelling. Hilton works with a broad scope, examining the devastation of the war, the anti-Jewish sentiment among the population, which morphed into hatred and suspicion, provoking ethnic hostilities and paving the way for Nazi genocide. He offers a comprehensive picture of a time when the Nazi regime solidified into the evil monolith and went to war with the world and eventually fell apart. The story is grim, even cautionary, from first to last, but there’s no actual depiction of violence or war. Along the way, Hilton delves into issues of hate, fear, bigotry, identity, transformation, getting lost and finding oneself again, the strength of friendship, and the vicissitudes of memory. His depiction of life during and in the aftermath of the war is harrowing and moving, and his examination of how the great events in history and the decisions taken by those in power transform the lives of common people are thought-provoking. The only real demerit is that the book goes on a touch too heavy on philosophy. If you’re looking for a dramatic sweep of a war novel, this is not the book for you. Instead, readers will get a fresh-eyed-look at a grim period in history, with impressive insight in abundance. A solid historical read.
Streets of Tears
Larry J Hilton
Pub date August 7, 2020
Price $17.09 (USD) Paperback, $26.43 Hardcover, $7.95 Kindle edition