After Holocaust, next book on US election: Sam Bourne

November 12th, 2008 - 11:58 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaNew Delhi, Nov 12 (IANS) Renowned author and British journalist Jonathan Freedland - whose pen name is Sam Bourne - plans to weave his next book around the US election campaign. Having covered the polls this time when Barack Obama had his historic victory, he has enough matter in his hands to pad up his next bestseller.

“I am writing this in Chicago, after seeing Obama celebrate his election as president of the United States. My next novel will be set during a US election campaign,” Freedland, 41, told IANS in an e-mail interview.

A writer of fiction, his books have often been rooted in history. Having spent a good 20 years of his life covering the Middle East conflict, Freedland’s “The Last Testament” was based on the looting of the Baghdad museum of antiquities in 2003.

His latest book, “The Final Reckoning”, which hit the stands in India in October, was based on the horror tales of the Holocaust and how a group of survivors went all out to avenge the mass deaths.

The Holocaust is a term used to describe the genocide of approximately six million European Jews during World War II, as part of a deliberate extermination programme executed by the Nazi regime under Adolf Hitler.

” ‘The Final Reckoning’ is centred on a remarkable and true story - what I call the last great secret of World War II - which I first heard when I was a teenager,” Freedland said.

“I still marvel that it is not yet more widely known. I had read several books on this episode - a story of revenge, motivated by the greatest crime in human history - long before I imagined writing a novel inspired by it,” he said.

“The Final Reckoning” spins its plot around a lawyer, Tom Byrne, who has long steered away from the days in New York when he was an idealistic young lawyer and will work with anyone who gives him good money.

So when the United Nations calls him in to do its dirty work, he accepts the job without hesitation. A suspected suicide bomber shot by UN security staff has turned out to be a harmless old man - Tom must placate the family and limit their claims for compensation.

In London, Tom meets the dead man’s alluring daughter, Rebecca, and learns that her father was not quite as innocent as he seemed. Hereon, he unravels details of a unique, hidden brotherhood, united in a mission that has spanned the world and caused hundreds of unexplained deaths. Pursued by those ready to kill to uncover the truth, Tom has to unlock a secret that has lain buried for more than 60 years - the last great secret of World War II.

“Very many readers have told me they think this is the best of the three novels I have written and I have to say I agree. Just as many have told me that they were gripped by the story - and then stunned to discover that the key elements in it are, in fact, true,” Freedland, who writes a weekly column for the Guardian, said about the responses to his book.

The book talks about a group of Holocaust survivors coming forward to form a death squad after World War II to take revenge on their Nazi persecutors, which has its roots in history.

Incidents such as the avengers’ poisoning 3,000 loaves of bread which were consumed by 2,280 officers of the SS - a major Nazi organisation under Adolf Hiter and the Nazi party - which killed many is a fact and finds mention in the book.

Another plan by the avengers to poison the water supply to five German cities, which did not materialise, is also mentioned in the book. A group of elderly Holocaust survivors confessed this on the Israel Channel Two TV, which was also reported by the Associated Press in 2005.

“I had to do a lot of research for this book which took me a year. It required me to discover much about the history of the 1940s Europe under Nazi occupation,” said Freedland, who also holds a history programme on BBC Radio.

“I read a lot and, since the story begins at the United Nations in New York, I travelled there and interviewed several people about the inner workings of that organisation. It’s vital to get those details right if you can.”

His eyes now set on his next book, Freedland said his next will be set in the US election campaign.

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