Richard Kluger’s Hamlet’s Children is a fantastic piece of historical fiction that is so believable one would think that the story is actually true. The author’s style is unique.
Imagine it is now several years after WWII has ended. One evening you are sitting with Terry Sayre in his living room after a delicious dinner. You both are sharing interesting details about the war years over a cordial.
Terry pulls down his journal from his bookcase. He tells you that what he is about to share has never been told to anyone this side of the Atlantic.
He opens his prized possession and begins to read an excerpt from it. Then he expands upon the entry he just read. He elaborates on it so his friend understands the backstory to that account. If there is no discussion to the segment, he moves on to the next situation he wishes to share.
The tone of each entry is quite different. Some are humorous. Others are quite tragic such as the one he read and expounded upon about the death of Tanner Olsen a 17-year-old star soccer player. One entry in particular is of the evacuation of Danish Jews to Sweden. Many are quite emotional such as German Lieutenant Colonel Holst’s testimony during the Danish post war tribunal. Still others are about love and devotion to country.
Frequently Terry reminds his friend that “Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it.” The reader does not need to be reminded.
Now think about this for a moment. How would you, as a young person, an alien no less, in Nazi occupied Denmark react to your situation? Would you have reacted as did Terrance Sayre?
Or would you have been like so many Danes who “Having voluntarily and systematically disarmed for two decades under the banner of pacifism and a policy of neutrality toward all nations, civilized, and otherwise offered no resistance to the invading and occupying Germans.”
Danes like that enjoyed a relatively calm existence. At the end, however, when liberated by General Montgomery’s forces, they erupted like a volcano offering no quarter.
Read this book. Reflect. It’s a wonderful story and is highly recommended by a military historian.