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Hardcover A Family Madness Book

ISBN: 0671611755

ISBN13: 9780671611750

A Family Madness

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The fatal and desperate politics of Eastern Europe collide with the comparative innocence and complacency of suburban Australian life in this powerful and disturbing love story about two families and... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

3 ratings

History reaches out to grab us . . .

The Second World War in Europe was considered a Great Crusade. The crusaders were largely single-minded in their approach to the conflict, particularly in political matters. The invasion of the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany brought that Communist coalition into a rickety accord with the Western Allies. Loosely calling the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics "Russia", the Allies lumped many peoples together. The member-states of the Soviet Union each had a sense of their own nationalism. In some cases, these client states gave uneasy welcome to the invaders in the belief they would thereby shed the Russian yoke.Thomas Keneally has added to our awareness of these conditions with A FAMILY MADNESS. Many survivors of Nazi Germany fled Europe at war's end. So much attention has been given to those who found sanctuary in South America, that we tend to forget there were other places to hide from justice. Australia was a fine refuge for many European exiles in the post-war years. But those émigrés often carried a heavy mental and emotional burden. Rudi Kabbel, Sydney security firm owner, is one such, his father having been a police chief in Nazi- occupied Belorussia. The weight of being the son of a man who assisted with the settlement of "the Jewish problem" in his nation rests severely on him. Belorussia, the Ukraine and other Soviet Union members took the view that Jews were the foundation of the Bolshevik movement. Russia, as the driving force in expanding Communism and degrading national aspirations. These nations had engaged in pogroms against the Jews at earlier times in their history. It was no novelty to continue it under the Nazis as an element in their resistance to Russian hegemony. So Stanislaw Kabbelski willingly became an instrument against the hated enemy of Russian Communist Jewry.Keneally's method of tracing this complex time is by the creation of a Kabbelski family history and a diary of the elder Kabbelski. The family now lives in Sydney, running the security agency. Terry Delaney, becomes involved with the Kabbels as an employee of the agency. He complicates his association by having an affair with Rudi's daughter Danielle. As their situation evolves, Delaney becomes increasingly aware of Rudi's disturbed mental state. War criminal fugitives and their families are falling under increasing scrutiny. Rudi understands that "history makes its claim - history comes up and grabs people". Now it is reaching up to seize him and his family. And Terry Delaney is being swept up in its grip.With the blood of Irish rebels in his veins and as an ardent leader in the Australian Republican Movement, Thomas Keneally is well versed it nationalist ideals. He's expressed his ideals in fiction and autobiography. He knows how it can be expressed and what pitfalls may be encountered. He doesn't have to be Belorussian to understand the workings of the Kabbelski mind. Nor does he fall into the trap of hi

A fascinating exploration of the banality of evil

How does Keneally know? The exploration of what it took for people to survive in the no-mans-land of eastern Europe as fascist and communist fought for control is so revealing that I could only believe that K had spent hours interviewing people who were there. Yet in his other novels he shows that he has an uncanny ability to understand what 'just folks' went through in far away times and places. Keneally is so sensitive and sympathetic that he can make characters real in a very deep way. The story of the struggle for survival in Europe is played against the banality of suburban life in Australia. When people are caught up in cataclysmic events, they live by their wits or perish. When the upheaval subsides, can they return to 'normalcy'?

From WW II Belorussia to contemporary Australia

Keneally explores, in this fascinating novel, the effects of history, specifically the violent history of Belorussia during World War II, on our ahistorical present, specifically suburban Sydney. As in his far more famous Schindler's List, no one is completely good or evil; there are admirable Nazis and detestable police men. Excellent.
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