Monday, 9 May 2016

Review for "Destitution Intensified" by James Gervois

Destitution Intensified by James Gervois

Destitution Intensified by James Gervois looks at the world, specifically Germany, after the death of Hitler and the unofficial end to World War II. It is set in Germany and revolves around the lives of multiple characters including German officers, Polish prisoners and British racketeers. Families are separated and destroyed, new relationships are formed, with some ending violently. The book encompasses all the chaos of war, but seeks to juxtapose this with the idea that this is technically peace time. No character is completely innocent and no one is safe from the events that unfold around them. Each person does what they can to survive, but it is up to the reader to decide the morality of their actions, a tricky thing to do in a place that has essentially descended into madness.

Gervois has done something I think few WWII authors have done, show the ugly side of peace. We all like to think a lot about the end of the war, the joy, the happiness, the celebrations, but that is a pretty narrow view of things, especially when we consider what happened to Germany. Gervois does not pull any punches, he holds nothing back and it is as captivating as it is graphic. I have never experienced war, but the sheer level of chaos and despair often felt by the characters seems to be a pretty authentic depiction of what life is like living in an occupied country immediately after a bloody war. The skillful way Gervois weaves together the plot lines of the multiple characters he follows is nearly flawless and always kept me fully engaged in the story. The characters had such great dimension to them, the result of a very talented author. The book was not all doom and gloom however, every once and a while some ray of hope in the form of a strangers kindness, or a lucky coincidence keep the characters moving forward and keeps the reader from putting the book down in a state of depression. That little bit of positivity made the book much more endearing than if it had been purely about the ravages of war, or exclusively about the greatness of peace.

Gervois has some slip ups in the book, that prevent it from becoming a really great masterpiece. Some characters meet their end during the book, and sometimes Gervois has not made it totally clear that they have died, or sometime that end comes quite abruptly with little finesse. The end of the book also meets q very quick conclusion, leaving the reader wondering how that happened so fast and spoiling what was otherwise a well-crafted story.

It is hard to find too much fault with Gervois, he did an amazing job with some pretty tough material to handle, and considering the type of world he was delving into has been studied and written about so extensively, I consider it a great feat to approach it in such an interesting and successful way. Gervois is certainly an author to watch out for. 

To learn more about the author click here
To buy it on Amazon click here

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