Samson: A Savior Will Rise, by Shawn Hoffman
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Booksneeze/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]
This particular book is the novelized version of real and chilling historical events in World War II. The book is a rare combination of being easy to read in terms of its style and hard to read in terms of its content. The book does not short on talking about the horrors of the Nazi regime, both in its hypocrisy and lies, and in the way that it masked incredible decadence and lust and greed, and in the way in which power was exploited in torturing the innocent through rape and experiments and brutality (Dr Mengele is a notable villain here, but Commendant Hoss is not much better, even if he is less cruel). On the other side, the book does not short the reader in talking about the wrestling that the comparatively innocent believers have with the problem of evil and the difficulties they face in maintaining their dignity and humanity in the midst of brutality and inhumanity.
At the core of the story is a complicated set of historical figures, some of them a composite of real individuals. Included in this body of characters is an enigmatic and compassionate Polish priest (since canonized by the Roman Catholic Church), Maximilian Kolbe, who helps inspire the faith of Samson and encourage his wiser and less self-destructive tendencies. Samson is a somewhat impetuous but physically strong boxer whose strength and divinely inspired fury (which does tend to remind one of the biblical character Samson). Samson has a brother who is physically less weak but whose desire to marry his beloved fiance leads to an interesting and touching interplay between the villainous Nazis and the oppressed prisoners at Auschwitz. Of course, Samson sneaks into Auschwitz to escape the SS in Krakow after saving the life of a young man from SS guards.
At the core of the story is a theme that I can relate to all too well personally. Samson’s stubborn sense of honor and too quick readiness to settle injustices with fists due to his hatred of bullying and his lack of self-control lead him into a great deal of conflict. However, his essential goodness and resilience and sense of honor also are the way that he delivers himself and others from certain death, even if he cannot prevent his loved ones from suffering abuse and degradation at the hands of the brutal Nazis. At the center of the plot is the way in which Samson uses his cleverness and wits and his skill at boxing to secure some measure of security as well as the possibility of freedom for his family. Samson’s noble self-sacrifice and the way in which his desire to fight propels him to provide hope for his people behind bars by winning boxing matches through surprising feats of strength, including an epic battle with famed German heavyweight Max Schmeling.
The themes of self-sacrifice in this book as well as the degradation that mankind must overcome is similar to the best of our contemporary film and literature . While it is unclear exactly why self-sacrifice has become such a major trend in a certain part of our contemporary culture, perhaps as a way of attempting to encourage moral virtue in a somewhat selfish age, this book has a cinematic feel to it, deserves a wide reading audience, and shows a relatively obscure angle in World War II portrayals, showing the corruption of the SS officers in their resort just outside of the concentration camp that they oversaw. The rivalries and divisions of the Nazi regime, which provided room for maneuver for those who are innocent and decent. This room for maneuver provides the only space for good to prevail in any fashion among the brutal world in which this story takes place, a brutal world we may yet see again.
 See, for example: