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Book of Kings

Synopsis

... Underlying these forces that are transforming world society, the biblical desert of the prophets revolts against Hitler's technological north as Justin allies himself with fellow Algerian Eli Hebron, a Jewish organiser of world-revolution and together they publish the Paris broadsheet Justice. In his double role as French literary prodigy, Justin falls in love with Helene, as does his admired friend David, who has recently broken off with the Hungarian actress.

The centrifugal forces of class, race, and culture lead both men to marry the wrong women - Justin fails with Helene and marries Luz - and from thence the four Fleurusians become lost to each other across the vast landscapes of World War II.

The European holocaust of the Jews, metastasizing to tens of millions from all races and religions, is at the story's center - and David and Helene Sunda at first flee their families' conservative traditions and return across Stalin's Russia to assume responsibility. On the way, their son the future Red Brigade terrorist, Alaric, is born in a Trans-Siberian railway compartment. In Berlin - after a threatening meeting with Hitler - David’s family connections with the tank-commander Guderian assure him a place as witness to the Center Army advance on Moscow, while behind them the Einsatzgruppen roundup the Jews. At Smolensk, David soon joins the July 20 plot on Hitler, deserts, and ends up in a Polish concentration camp. Helene must survive as a French woman in Nazi Germany.

Meanwhile, Duncan Penn has been cut off from his friends in a vacuous New York marriage, and Justin is separated from Luz in Algeria, where he for the first time realises his father's place in the Arab anti-colonial revolt. As France's Vichy regime spreads to North Africa, Eli Hebron seeks Justin out as a natural leader of Europe's anti-fascist partisans, and Justin lives out Hitler's war at a pivotal Resistance farm in the Besancon region, where his wife rejoins him.

Duncan Penn returns to liberate his friends as a Major in Patton's army at the Bulge, where amid indescribable violence he is fated to die without meeting them again. Johannes witnesses the burning of Berlin.

As Paris is liberated and an exhausted Europe grows conscious of the massive crimes committed on its soil, Luz, Justin, David, and Helene meet again at the Le Treves' family table where they had loved each other before the war. But the powerful civilisation that once united them has given way to new forces building the 21st Century. The Sundas become New Yorkers and David leaves Helene to raise their children, going alone into the Amazon jungle on a speculation to rebuild their family fortune. Similarly, Justin leaves Luz in Paris, at last embracing the desert as a symbolic leader of the FLN revolt against the French, embodied in Helene's officer brother Jean-Marc's presence during the Battle of Algiers.

The plot returns again to Eli Hebron in Paris, whose failed revolution has evolved into the 1960s Red Brigades, as he and Alaric Sunda attempt a violent coup on the French state.

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The Book of Kings
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