I was in the search for new books to review and help out some less famous authors, and I found Champion by Stephen Deutsch through an online blog tour with Book Collective.
Which means I finished up reading Champion and here I am to talk about it.
It’s very common for small-time authors, indie authors, and vanity press published authors to have absolutely horrid books. I don’t know how this book hasn’t gotten more attention already! It’s freaking awesome!
Champion is a historical fiction about two different people that could be classified as champions. It’s set in World War II-era Germany and depicts the story of young Jew Herschel Grynszpan and Max Schmeling.
If you’re a boxing fan then it’s likely you’ve heard of Max Schmeling, he was the German boxing champion that lost his title to Joe Louise during the second World War. His storyline throughout the novel is about how he became known as a Nazi sympathizer despite the fact he never truly believed in the Nazi ideology, he even helps some Jews. But he had to keep up a façade in order to keep himself and his wife out of the line of sight of the German government.
The name you’ve probably never heard of is Herschel Grynszpan. He is surprisingly important to the narrative the Nazis pushed on the Jews though.
As a young boy, he faced severe discrimination, but he was at a good age for his parents to send him out of Germany with the hopes of him being able to get the rest of the family to emigrate to Palestine.
Herschel goes to live with his aunt and uncle in Paris but gets into a fight with them because they lack a way to help his parents. Herschel decides to take matters into his own hands and buys a handgun to go kill the German representative in Paris.
His act sparks even more hatred and discrimination on the Jewish people.
The book expands on what happened and why. I can’t talk anymore about it because I will spoil it and I really don’t want to do that.
Champion by Stephen Deutsch does some really important things when it comes to historical fiction: it establishes sympathetic characters, keeps the events true on a broad scale, and makes the following scenes feel very real.
Historical fiction is so difficult because sensationalized history tends to not really hit with audiences. Deutsch overcomes this with believable characters and events. He doesn’t put too many scenes with Adolph Hitler because he’s a character that’s so well documented that people would become irate if they didn’t agree with his portrayal. On top of that, it’s important to show that events that didn’t directly involve Hitler still had a direct impact on the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis.
Another cool aspect from Champion is something that people really don’t like to admit. When there is a major social movement, it’s hard to go against the grain and stick to your morals. That is the situation with Max Schmeling.
Schmeling’s storyline of just doing his job, boxing, but being from Germany, forced him to pretend to be a Nazi. He doesn’t share the ideas or beliefs of the Nazi party, yet he has to fake being a Nazi so that he doesn’t cross the wrong guy and get himself or his wife killed.
If this is what happens for a mainstream professional athlete, then it’s pretty reasonable to think that the average person would be in the same situation. Especially because someone that isn’t in the mainstream could be killed and nobody would bat an eye for it.
I truly loved this book, and I highly recommend that others give it a read too as soon as you can.