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The King David Report (European Classics) [Paperback]

Stefan Heym
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
RRP: 15.50
Price: 15.36 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

15 Nov 2002 European Classics
In this retelling of one of the great biblical stories, King Solomon commissions Ethan the Scribe to write the official history of King David. In return for the finest cooking in the land and the wages of a minor prophet, Ethan must write a proper record, full of glory and battles, statecraft and honor -- a tribute to David and to Solomon, his heir. But as Ethan explores further, he finds another life hidden behind the iron curtain dividing past from present: the story of a David who seduced, lied, bragged, and plundered his way to power. Which life should he write in the The King David Report? Written by one of Germany's most acclaimed dissident authors, The King David Report is both a masterly analysis of the writer's obligations to truth, and an astute satire on the workings of history and politics in a totalitarian state.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press; Northwestern University Press Pbk. Ed edition (15 Nov 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810115379
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810115378
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.1 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 467,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Introduction to Old Testament Study! 15 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An odd title for my review I admit, but let me explain. I was first given a copy of what looked like a rather tawdry pot-boiler by a certain Rowan Williams (later to become Archbishop of Canterbury). I was bemused. Why did an intellectual and scholar of his standing want me to read this?

Finally I did read it. Not only was it beautifully written (the English echoing the cadences of the Authorised Version,as the German does the style of Luther's translation of the New Testament),and - disguised as a novel about a tenth century BC king - a superb underhand dig at the distortion of reality that totalitarian regimes are prone to, but it also happens to be simply the best introduction to modern critical analysis of the Old Testamentthat I know.

I ended up as a director of studies in Old Testament at Cambridge University. I put this book at the top of the reading list for first year undergraduates. Heym provides a most convincing account of how the biblical historical narratives were likely composed as propaganda for the authorities: after all King David was a pretty sordid sort of King, and Solomon was not much better. He also suggests how paid scribes could fulfil their task and yet sqeeze hints of the truth into commissioned texts, hints that the authorities would be too obtuse to pick up but later readers or scholars might detect and decipher.

Something for everyone
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Of all the modern retellings of the story of David, including Heller's _God Knows_ and Shamir's _The Hittite Must Die_, this is by far the best informed, most sophisticated and the most remarkable achievement for a writer. Another on-line reviewer praises the book for revivifying "a dry piece of OT prose." There is nothing dry or prosaic about David's story in 2 Samuel 9-1 Kings 2. On the contrary. It is in a league of its own. Yet Heym has somehow given himself a superlative background in biblical studies and the ancient Near East, and somehow acquired a command of English which native English speakers should envy. As a result, Heym manages to produce a piece of engrossing fiction which at the same time contains a wealth of insight into both ancient and modern political realities. As a modern biblical novel, it far outstrips even Thomas Mann's writings on Joseph and Moses. The highest praise I can give is to put it on a par with Hurston's magnificent _Moses: Man of the Mountain_.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History, as written by the winners. 24 Nov 1997
By A Customer
Like other recent eastern european authors like Bulgakov and Dombrovsky, Stefan Heym writes a novel based on Biblical events to tell a tale of life in a totalitarian state. Ethan of Ezra, allegedly the wisest man in Israel is commisioned to write the true story of the life of King David. Unfortunately his patron is none other than Solomon, who is anxious for a certain interpretation of his father's life. This is a marvellous book, turning a dry piece of Old Testament prose into the stuff of political feuds and drama that looses nothing in a couple of thousand years of waiting.
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