Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Trailer Park Tuesday: The Commandant of Lubizec by Patrick Hicks

Welcome to Trailer Park Tuesday, a showcase of new book trailers and, in a few cases, previews of book-related movies.

Six months ago, I was privileged to read an early advance copy of a debut novel which is going to electrify and polarize readers.  Patrick Hicks' The Commandant of Lubizec is, on the surface, a difficult book to read--just as Schindler's List was difficult to watch in certain places and just as most literature about the Holocaust is rightfully hard to swallow.  But The Commandant of Lubizec is also an important, hard-to-put-down book which should be topping this season's reading lists.  In the book trailer, Hicks gives a small glimpse of his motivations behind writing the novel.  When some of his college students admitted they'd never heard of the Nazi "death camps," Hicks knew he had to do something about that.  Rather than writing a straight-up non-fiction history, or even a novel set in an actual death camp, Hicks took a different approach: he fabricated his own prison camp called Lubizec.  The novel is so rich in detail that you want to praise Hicks for meticulously researching a piece of forgotten history.  But it's a false history--a lie soberly grounded in truth.  Briefly, here's how the publisher describes the plot of the novel (which will be released at the end of March): "The Commandant of Lubizec is a harrowing account of a death camp that never actually existed but easily could have in the Nazi state.  It is a sensitive, accurate retelling of a place that went about the business of genocide.  Told as a historical account in a documentary style, it explores the atmosphere of a death camp.  It describes what it was like to watch the trains roll in, and it probes into the mind of its commandant, Hans-Peter Guth.  How could he murder thousands of people each day and then go home to laugh with his children?" As I mentioned, I was honored to lend a few words of praise on behalf of the book.  Here's what I said then (and what I'll go around saying now): "Out of the cooling ashes of Holocaust history, Patrick Hicks manages to break our hearts with a story we thought we already knew.  The Commandant of Lubizec is profound, provocative, and profane in all the best ways.  While reading The Commandant of Lubizec, one question kept running through my mind: 'Was it really this bad?'  Through his all-too-real fiction, Patrick Hicks convinces me that, sadly, the answer is 'Yes.'  The Commandant of Lubizec is important and unforgettable."


  1. he fictional presentation here measures up to any factual account of the Holocaust this reviewer has ever read. Highly recommended, especially for general readers who wish to know more about this unspeakable chapter of human history. Even specialists will be taken in by its human-interest dimension.

  2. Although this book is fiction, it reads like a biography and does a good job of conveying what life in a deathcamp was probably like, as well as examining the lives of those who committed these vile acts, and those who turned a blind eye. A lot of research must have gone into writing a book of this nature. I look forward to re-reading it in a few years.

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