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Word Count: 572
Letters of transit Address Unknownby Kressmann Taylor 54pp Souvenir Press If I were to tell you that a novel made up entirely of letters just 54 pages long eight of them blank came with a New York Times Book Review plaudit on its cover judging it the most effective indictment of Nazism to appear in fiction you might think it the mother of all hype Yet spend three-quarters of an hour with it and youll be jabbing all comers with the injunction Read Kressmann Taylors book was first published as a short story in an American magazine in 1938 causing a sensation The Readers Digest reprinted it subsequent publication in book form notched up sales of 50000 and it was immediately banned in Germany Reissued in 1995 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps its French translation has been on the bestseller lists for two years having sold 600000 copies its currently also a successful Paris stage play And among the 15-plus recent translations is the first German edition It was Taylors inspired conceit to tell the story of a Jew living in San Francisco and his German business partner who returns in 1933 to live in Germany through their letters At first the warmth between Max Eisenstein and Martin Schulse is palpable With fabulous economy Taylor maps their shared history and faintly diverging lives the one still selling dud Madonnas to rich vain Jews the other with a perpetually pregnant wife But as Hitlers power grows the man is like an electric shock Schulse starts with the caveats the I have never hated the individual Jew I have loved you not because of your race but in spite of it and gives a Germans-eye view of the terrifyingly insidious spread of totalitarianism Their correspondence shows how political ideology is played out on the personal plane As Nazism spreads along with Schulses enthusiasm for it
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