This being my tenth Rosenberg book to review, I really don’t have a whole lot more to say about the author that what I’ve published previously. While he can tend toward sentimentality and tinges of melodrama—whether it be in his most action-packed stories like The Last Jihad or in the most deplorable historical setting of Auschwitz—I still enjoy his books for their humanness within the intrigue, and I plan to continue reading everything he puts out. In fact, I really look forward to working my way through The First Hostage series.
The Auschwitz Escape is a novel loosely based on factual events, but has the much more specific intent of keeping the truths of the Holocaust fresh in yet another generation’s mind. In an era when the sheer saturation of information makes most people wary of everything they read, even the facts of our own world history appear to be in jeopardy. We need more writers like Rosenberg who are capable of encapsulating truth and education in a medium that this generation understands—entertainment through a good story.
I’d like to offer just a couple of notes from this book that surprised me. First was Rosenberg’s handling of the Gospel of Jesus in a prison camp consisting almost entirely of Jewish prisoners and run by godless Nazis who claimed Christianity as their religion. Rosenberg is after all a Christ-worshiping Christian himself, so how could he naturally fit that Truth into his novel without, at the same time, offending his likely-heavy Jewish readership? I think that his handling of this dilemma was superb, for he found historical proof of true Christians also held captive inside Auschwitz and he made the differing faiths of French Pastor Luc and the Jewish protagonist Jacob only a very minor sub-plot. This book is not a Gospel tract for Jews, as some other Christian authors might have felt compelled to make it had they written it themselves, but that’s OK. There’s a time and place for almost everything, but never for belittling the horrors of Auschwitz by painting the Christians as the heroes and the Jews as the sadly misguided victims. Kudos to Joel for being wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove.
Second, the action and suspense in this book was strong but not overpowering, fitting the circumstances where Jacob found himself. I have to admit, though, that I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t follow his escape step by step. That was, after all, the promised climax of the book’s title. The book could have been a few pages longer to see this accomplished, or Rosenberg could have shaved off some of Jacob’s Washington experience to make room for the escape. Perhaps he had a looming publication deadline, but I do wish to have read in more detail about those desperate hours of crossing.
I’m grateful for this provocative and entertaining history lesson. I do hope that many non-believers would pick up this book and enjoy it so much that they seek out Rosenberg’s other works, novels that are just as exciting but also spell out the Gospel a bit more clearly.