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Palette Knife: A Novel of Love, Intrigue, and Nazi Terror Kindle Edition
|Length: 276 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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The story centers on Max Bauer, a superior marksman and sniper in his younger days during WWI, who has retired his weapons in favor of paintbrushes, palettes, and easels, and has become a pacifist due to his earlier war experiences. He distrusts politics and is sickened by a world that seems consumed by murderous dictators and upheaval. So, when faced with the Nazi destruction of valuable art and the dangers to his loved ones betrayed by informers, what will he do? Will he be willing to kill again to save his love and his country from Nazi tyranny?
The answers are not what might be expected. But, easy choices are boring, which this book is not. Looking at the situation from today’s viewpoint, this question is complicated by some hard facts: If Max doesn’t cooperate with the regime, Hitler and his henchmen could arrest and murder his wife, his wife’s family, and his best friend, who is not only a “degenerate” artist but a subversive. Furthermore, Max’s artistic style, which has “subversive” elements, puts his life clearly at risk as well. Layered upon this is his ambition not only to further his art form but also that of Expressionism in a hostile environment, albeit in a modified form. However, once he begins to “play ball,” it’s too late.
Surprises begin in the novel’s prologue and continue throughout. Max does not immediately stand out as the mighty hero jumping into the resistance. Instead, he moves as so many trusting citizens did in those days, hoping things would be all right and telling themselves the rumors of persecution and slaughter couldn’t be true. In fact, Max takes a well-paying job at Hitler’s request, monitoring exhibitions of contrasting art—one showing banal pastoral works supposedly uplifting the Aryan tradition; the other composed of so-called degenerate works (Kirchner, Nolde, Klee, Beckmann, Pechstein, Dix and others), which are to be destroyed after the exposition. Knowing the value of these pieces, Bauer hopes to save them and so uses this excuse as a reason to coddle the desires of Der Führer. He maintains a working relationship with Hitler as a favored artist, even though readers are apt to shout at Max, “Don’t!”
In addition to being favored by Hitler, Max also develops personal connections with such brutal enforcers as Goering and Goebbels, whose selfish and horrible acts are described in sinister detail. Max manages to stay out of their reach by continuing to create some artwork that Der Führer likes, but they and the Gestapo are ever on the sidelines waiting for Max to make a false step.
One of Max’s most surprising acquaintances is a young, beautiful, athletic Reich secretary named Eva, who parades nude, performs gymnastics, and acts scatterbrained—but is she? In this story, readers will discover a very different Eva Braun than the one they’ve usually dismissed simply as Hitler’s mistress.
As in Monuments Men, another novel exposing the Reich’s theft or destruction of priceless art, Palette Knife presents the self-interest, cruelty, and greed of Hitler and his chosen officers. Throughout the story, readers wait for Max to step up and stop the art desecration and evil prejudice he sees around him, although he seems to feel he can accomplish more behind the scenes as one of Hitler’s minions. His views change, however, when exciting twists of plot lead to an action-packed climax.
But the story does not end there. We begin with Max during WWI, go through the rise of Nazi power in the 1930s with all its brutality, witness the world’s tribulations during WWII, come out the other side at war’s end—and if this were an ordinary story we’d find Max and Frieda living happily ever after. But do they? Readers will enjoy Palette Knife from beginning to end, and will find an unexpected answer to that question in the process. The story begs another question: For most people, when does pacifism end and confronting terrorism begin—and does that include murder to root out the evil?
The author, Manolakas, displays an in-depth knowledge of painting, architecture, medicine, weaponry, European history, and human emotion that enhance the novel and make it more than a war story, or a love story, or a thriller. Palette Knife resonates as a vibrant picture of what life held for the common man, for the persecuted Jews, for the elite Nazis, and for the many artists crushed by the Third Reich. Chillingly, it also underscores not only the historic Holocaust concept of the “banality of evil,” but worse, the twisted perversions that bring evil into our midst.
Most recent customer reviews
I actually finished this several weeks - or a couple months - ago, but I was so swamped with work I couldn't find the time to post a review.Read more
Wonderful performance by the narrator. Loved it.Read more
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