Monday, December 16, 2013

Samson: A Savior Will Rise by Shawn Hoffman

Samson: A Savior Will Rise by Shawn Hoffman is one of the more difficult books I've ever read, because of the content. Most of the novel, which is based on true events, takes place in Auschwitz. Dr. Josef Mengele and his experiments are largely featured and several of the main character's family members are involved in them. The main character, Samson, and his family are amalgamations of people who were actually in the concentration camp at Auschwitz. The story follows Samson and his family from the incident that sends them to the camp, through the eventual demise of many of the characters, and the subsequent end of the war.

Hoffman does a good job of blending fact and fiction. While it is understood that the characters and the circumstances that brought them to the camp are fictional, everything else, including everything that happens in the camp is based on fact. When a particularly hard to believe incident occurs, Hoffman provides documentation that the incident actually happened in the form of a footnote at the bottom of the page. As familiar as I felt I was with the atrocities of the concentration camps, I was not prepared for some of the details of experiments Dr. Mengele performed. I appreciate the fact that Hoffman represented the historical figures with attention to historical detail.

The Holocaust in general, and what Dr. Mengele did in particular are difficult topics to discuss. Hoffman's creation of a fictional family that experiences these things actually helped ground them in reality for me. Some of them are so horrific and beyond human thought that had I read about them on their own, without the association of the narrative, I don't know that they would've had the same impact. Hoffman does a great job of providing historical fact while also telling a compelling story that raises important questions about faith and hope. While it is a difficult read that requires a mature reader, I would recommend Samson: A Savior Will Rise to anyone interested in WWII, the Holocaust, or simply important questions about how faith and hope are shaped among the worst of circumstances.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255