Cover Image: Isaac's Beacon

Isaac's Beacon

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Member Reviews

A story concerning the founding of Israel after WW2. Robbins is a masterful story teller that reachers his novels to the letter T. I’ve read all of Robbins novels and immensely enjoy his writing. You will too.
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Move over Uris and Michener, another epic novel is here. With well -developed characters  the history of Israel’s birth comes alive. A must-read.
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The designation "Monumental" is applicable to certain projects and does have its place in the literary world. It certainly fits in to what David L Robbins has written and indicated as the first book in a planned series.  His research is nothing short of awesome and makes the work dealing with the founding of modern day Israel a probable classic.  Mr. Robbins begins in the Europe of the mid 20th century with Hitler going to war with various countries in order to gain territory to annex with Germany.  His plans include pogroms against various groups of people with Jews foremost in the scheme of things. His idea is to force attention on these groups in order to take the population away from concentrating on the economic disaster created by him.  The opening picks up several people held in concentration camps with their basic thoughts on trying to stay alive. 
Included is an American Journalist, a young woman with no skills product of an upscale family and a man who is not a warrior but later becomes a member of one of the terrorist groups fighting for freedom from Great Britan and later against the Arab countries opposed to a Jewish homeland in their lands.
      The first barrier faced by those desiring to come to Israel (than known as Palestine) are the hurdles faced with getting past the barriers placed by Great Britan who has been charged with keeping order and supervision of Palestine.  Mr. Robbins describes the methods used by the current residents and those desiring to get off ships carrying people that want to basically "return to life" after the horrors of being held in the death camps they come from.  There is than the process of placement of the waves of immigrants in productive work bringing them into the emerging nation. 
     The new nation evolves a system of kubutzes which are self sustaining agricultural units farming as well as making many products for their own use rather than buying on the open market. These units must also provide mainly for their own defense since an organized military is as yet not feasible. Book one ends as the journalist and the lady meet and fall in love with her becoming pregnant. Our reluctant warrior becomes a member of the Irgun which is one of the groups formed to use skills in becoming an organization to force the British out of the country and give up their mandate and also to work against enemies of the newly formed country.
      The final section of book one occurs as the United Nations approves the formation of a Jewish state which quickly takes the name Israel and faces up to war with many of their Arab neighbors.  Well written with a long book becoming one heck of an all nighter and attention turning to buying book two as soon as it comes out.   The sex of the baby is not revealed (wonder why) and should be announced in book two.
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Robbins is a safe bet if you like action tales (usually military and thrillers). He writes well and creates good tension and suspense that keeps me engaged. This is historical fiction, and since it incorporates some history, it makes it more interesting. Recommended.

Thanks very much for the free ARC for review!!
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Robbins, known for his historical novels centering around the second World War, offers us in his latest novel a book focusing on the short years between the Holocaust and the birth of the state of Israel. During those years, the Jews fought for their independence from the British Empire, which under the auspices of the League of Nations and then the United Nations, ruled with an iron fist over the Mandate of Palestine, which to the British were the spoils of the first World War, conquered from the Ottomans. The British, although they had promised the land be returned to its indigenous people, the Jews, split seventy-seven percent of it off and gave it to an Arab sheik and then throughout the 1930’s limited Jewish immigration from Europe so that those fleeing the death march of the Nazis had nowhere to turn to. After Europe was liberated from Nazi occupation, the British set up a blockade to prevent Jews from returning to their homeland, imprisoning Holocaust survivors in camps in Cyprus for years on end.

The novel has three shifting points of view. There is Eva, who later became Rivkeh, who was sent forward to Palestine with her family remaining behind, hoping to survive the onslaught in Vienna. There is Hugo, the plumber, who somehow, some way, survived Hitler’s death camps and was there when the Americans opened up the camps, barely able to walk. The third point of view is taken up by Vincent Haas, a Brooklyn-raised reporter for the Herald Tribune, who had no stake in any of this, but was there when the camps were liberated and was at Buchenwald to help Hugo walk out of it. As the Allies sought to find out where to send displaced persons after the war, survivors were asked where they were from and Vincent noted that, unlike other Eastern Europeans, the Jews had no country to return to. Often, they had not been even considered citizens of Poland or Russia and could not return there.
Instead on a hope and a prayer, they boarded rickety boats for Palestine, hoping to run the British blockade. Vincent followed Hugo and others on such a boat, hoping to report on the events just as they transpired.

Like Leon Uris’ Exodus, this novel follows the pioneers through the early years of turning desert into farmland amidst a hostile environment. Eva, now Rivkeh, finds her home on a kibbutz in the Gutz Etzion bloc protecting the southern approach to Jerusalem. Hugo becomes a member of the Irgun, a group fighting against the British occupation, whose methods were sometimes ruthless and included the bombing of the King David Hotel and not always popular. Vincent remains a reporter and a trusted friend of Hugo. Later, he meets Rivkeh at the kibbutz. It is through these three points of view that we hear about the battle for liberation from the British.

It is a fairly nuanced novel and Robbins does not always coat his heroes with glory but shows in some fashion all sides of the conflict and those caught up in it. Filled with action, it is a terrific read from start to finish.
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