Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
One might expect pundit and bestselling author Buckley (Spytime; Elvis in the Morning) to offer a revisionist take on the Nuremberg trials, filtered through his uniquely erudite conservative consciousness. But there's little that's fresh or unconventional in his description of a seminal moment in the history of war crimes prosecution. There's some sniping at the Soviet Union, which Buckley deems wholly ill-equipped to render judgment on any other nation's brutality and genocidal machinations. There are also a few intriguing tangents about the theatrical properties of the tribunal, and the fact that Allied legal minds were essentially making up the rules as they went along, since they were on such unprecedented ground. Buckley's protagonist, Sebastian Reinhard, is unusually well equipped to understand the proceedings: a German-born American officer who eventually discovers that he's part-Jewish, Reinhard lost a father to the Nazi war machine and witnessed the carnage that Hitler's megalomania had wrought. Acting as an interpreter for prosecutors at the trials, he is thrust into close contact with one of the defendants, camp commandant Kurt Waldemar Amadeus, and is shocked by the man's cold-blooded lack of conscience. Buckley's writing is serviceable throughout, if lacking his usual polysyllabic exuberance, but his characters are flat and featureless. In the end, his feel for the historical significance of the Nuremberg trials exceeds his ability to spin engrossing fiction out of them. Agent, Lois Wallace. (June) Forecast: Buckley's fame guarantees plenty of review attention. WWII buffs and hardcore Buckley fans will account for the bulk of sales. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
The fresh and amusing, if somewhat unfocused, story of an idealistic young man's lifelong friendship with the King of Rock 'n' Roll. The storyline on surface seems to have sprung from the mind of some unreconstructed, wacked-out liberal like Tom Robbins than by archconservative pundit and spy novelist Buckley (Spytime, 2000, etc.). Orson Killere is a bright lad who spent his childhood years on an army base in West Germany during the 1950s, his mother a general's personnel administrator. Even though he's extremely studious and not much for playing around, Orson does delight in one rather serious obsession: Elvis Presley. Misinterpreting the social utopian views about private property from one of his teachers, Orson decides that the entire world should have access to Elvis records. When he's apprehended by the police for stealing Elvis records from the PX, the story makes the Stars and Stripes and so impresses Private Presley (stationed nearby) that he shows up at Orson's house and treats him to a private concert. From then on, Orson and the King are fast and improbable friends. Buckley wisely refuses to play up the kitsch value, sticking to a generous portrayal of Elvis as a decent-enough, albeit delusional, musical genius who goes nowhere without his close coterie of advisors and friends (the "Memphis Mafia") but will drop everything to have a long chat on the phone with Orson, wherever and whenever. Through all of Orson's misadventures around the country-he's expelled from a university for protesting, rides the rails through the West, even meets Barry Goldwater briefly-the tone is inconsistent and spotty. Often, just when you feel as if you might be getting to know the protagonist, a phone call comes from one of the Memphis Mafia and Elvis takes the stage again. Too strange for fans of Buckley's Blackford Oakes series ("A Very Private Plot", 1994, etc.) and not Elvis-centered enough to please his vast fandom, but it'd be a shame if a story this unpredictable and fun fell through the cracks.
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