Samson: A Savior Will Rise
Nelson) by Shawn Hoffman may be one of the hardest fiction books you will ever
read. It has nothing to do with Shawn’s
writing style, which is very good, but everything to do with the content
between the covers.
fiction, but based on facts and real life accounts from prisoners of
Auschwitz. Shawn takes those stories he
learned while researching and uses them in the story of his main character,
Samson, and his family. Shawn weaves real-life stories into a wonderful
first person narrative. It could have been a temptation to just report the
facts, but he doesn’t. Shawn makes sure
that each story he shares is handled sensitively, but also in a truthful
Shawn’s novel is mostly based on
Joseph Levi—an actual Jewish Olympic boxer from Poland who along with his
family was moved into the Ghetto in Krakow, where much persecution happened.We have all heard those stories and Shawn
does not linger there, he moves the family to the death camp. The horrors of
the camp are so gruesome and detailed that readers should tread lightly and
pause if necessary.
Samson is recognized by Josef
Mengele and the camp Commandant Rudolf Hoss and is forced to provide
entertainment for the officers and the camp guards by boxing every Saturday
night.If he wins, he will receive extra
rations, if he loses him and his family will be sent to the gas chambers.
There is on particular scene
where Samson is fighting another prisoner and they both know that no matter who
wins the other guy is condemned to death.They both know that someone will die that night and Shawn does a great
job of writing the thought process of each character down.Samson struggles with condemning someone to
death and yet this is also about his own family’s survival. He must fight for
This book gives a very
different view of life behind the wire of Auschwitz, not only does it show the
prisoners life, you get a glimpse of block 10, which is where Mengele
ruled.It is a small glimpse, but it
isn’t for the faint of heart.
Samson is also a snapshot of
what the guard went through—how it was for a human to treat a fellow human so
callously and how they had to disassociate from what they were doing. The guards
had to believe that the prisoners actually were not human and
deserved what was happening to them in order to carry out their duties.
This book is a very well done
look into the life of Auschwitz and all that happened there, but it is also the
story of the human spirit. The theme of hope given in Jesus runs throughout. You
meet Max a monk who actually did end up in Auschwitz for saving Jews from the
Nazis, and he offers many words of wisdom on where is God in a place like that.
It makes it no less tragic but God did work there powerfully and Shawn makes sure
that comes through loud and clear.
Chris Jager has worked at
Baker Book House for over 17 years. It is the one job that was made for her. She
loves being able to share good fiction books with others. Visit her blog Fiction with Chris.