The King of Warsaw

Amazon Crossing. Apr. 2020. 432p. ISBN 9781542044462. $24.95. F
In 1937, Poland is a violent, almost savage land for the working class, and anti-Semitism is on the rise. Jakub Szapiro, a Jewish boxer who’s part of the Polish crime underworld, kills the father of 17-year old Mojzesz Bernztajn for failing to pay for protection. From this point the story appears to be narrated by Mojzesz, who follows in Szapiro’s shadow, as a more-or-less son, through Szapiro’s many criminal deeds and actions. Obsessed with power and influence, Szapiro also has a compassionate side, and because of both his athletic strength and his willingness to help people, he enjoys a loyal following and the moniker “King of Warsaw.” Just as readers become accustomed to the adventures of Szapiro as written by Mojzesz, a twist occurs that shows that not everything is as it has been depicted.
VERDICT This intelligent and literary novel about the Jewish situation in Poland is presented from an original vantage point. It will be of interest to readers of pre-Holocaust literature and books about the Jewish situation in Europe between World Wars.

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