Leslie Epstein Neal Ascherson - Essay

Neal Ascherson

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The plunge attempted by Leslie Epstein in King of the Jews required not merely courage but a degree of self-confidence approaching the suicidal. Epstein has written a novel about the Holocaust, a monumental study of the leader of a Judenrat. The scene is the Ghetto of Lodz, in Nazi-occupied Poland, and the central character is based on Chaim Mordecai Rumkowski, that legendary figure who ruled the ghetto, terrorized its inhabitants into passivity and submission, and persuaded them that a policy of "co-operation"—of letting one category after another be rounded up and driven into the trains bound for the gas chambers—offered a chance of survival for the dwindling remnant.

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(The entire section is 559 words.)