Top critical review
7 people found this helpful
Essential reading, but a disappointing deviation towards the end
on 15 September 2010
I wholly agree with the reviewer who says that the book would have been better if Ms Sereny had not gone into details about the role of the Catholic church. Not because that topic is not deserving of attention, but because the attention she gives it detracts from her primary subject matter and her consideration of it is, in any event, too brief to do that topic justice. Unfortunately, as a result, one comes away somewhat disappointed by the last 1/5 of the book, with a feeling that her analysis of Franz Strangl the man is not as profound and insightful as it could have been were she to have spent that extra time on trying further to understand Strangl and his actions. Perhaps she thought it necessary. His escape from Europe and the Catholic Church's role in that was part of Strangl's story and arguably it was therefore necessary, as with every other aspect of his story, for her to seek to determine whether his account of his escape was factually accurate. After all, that is one of the key strengths of the book: Sereny analyses the key protagonists' (Franz Strangl and his wife) own versions of the story and compares it to what is historically known as a way of trying to understand their actions and culpability. Unfortunately, however, the section on the Catholic Church actually adds very little to our understanding of her subject and feels like an unnecessary deviation that kills the pace of an otherwise fantastic book. I would still strongly recommend reading the book, but expect to be dissapointed towards the latter stages of the book.