By Jack Engelhard
During his interview on “60 Minutes” president-elect Barack Obama mentioned a book that he’d been reading on FDR’s first 100 Days. He did not name the book, tantalizing publishers that had such books on the shelves. After all, the mere mention of a book by Obama could lead to dancing – best seller!
Turns out that the prize went to two authors, Jonathan Alter and Jean Edward Smith. He’d been reading them both on FDR.
Some people have all the luck. However, a week or so earlier, the New York Times asked people to suggest what books Obama OUGHT TO BE reading, and here came the (truly gifted) writer John W. Cassell. He wrote in and suggested “The Bathsheba Deadline” as MUST READING. Well, until we find Obama with that book of mine (and riches to follow) I thought I’d present a portion of “The Bathsheba Deadline” that in fact touches on FDR. From page 154 of the paperback version, here goes:
“Nothing stops a real novelist, and the novel Sammy’s got going is real, the one about the Holocaust and all those Jewish lives that were lost at our expense. Cures for cancer and a hundred other diseases went up in the chimneys of Auschwitz, and we were silent, and silent again when the ship St. Louis came around and got turned back. Sam’s focus is on the St. Louis and on a scientist patterned after Hermann Strauss, a beloved teacher at Berlin University, and a world-class researcher who, on the verge of a breakthrough for cancer, was tortured at Therseienstadt and took his own life en route to Auschwitz.
“Sam (for his novel) was particularly fascinated in the true story of Talmudic giant Rabbi Eliezer Silver who, at the onset of the Holocaust, was not silent but founded Va’ad Hatzollo, an international rescue mission, and at Silver’s urging some 300 rabbis from around the world, back in 1943, marched to the White House in an effort to get FDR to save the Jews, but FDR was on more important business. [Golfing, we are told.]
“Silver traveled throughout Europe to personally save as many sons and daughters of Jacob as he could. He could not be stopped even in churches and nunneries and orphanages and relocation camps where he was told to move on as there were no Jewish children kept here, to which Silver loudly sang out the Sh’ma (Judaism’s signature liturgy) – Hear O Israel, The Lord Is Our God, The Lord Is One – and suddenly a hundred voices sang up and joined him word for word in the Hebrew, Sh’ma Yisrael Adonay Eloheinu Adonay Echad.
“Rabbi Silver did his traveling, on ships, trains, planes, jeeps, all in the uniform of his son, Nathan, cardiologist, medic and captain in Patton’s Third Army. As Dr. Nathan saved thousands of fellow American soldiers on the field of battle, in his role as physician, his father, the rabbi, is credited with saving more than 10,000 Jews, mostly children.”
The rest of the story is right there in “The Bathsheba Deadline.” Quick, before Obama gets his hands on it first.
Jack Engelhard’s latest novel, THE BATHSHEBA DEADLINE, places journalism at the center of our culture, politics and war on terror. Engelhard wrote the international bestselling novel INDECENT PROPOSAL that was translated into more than 22 languages and turned into a Paramount motion picture starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore. He can be reached at his website www.jackengelhard.com.