Late last night, I finished reading a book I wish everyone would read. I was reading A Perfect Madness by Frank H. Marsh. I wish everyone would read it and absorb it and truly understand it. It is truly that powerful a book.
The last time I felt moved to spread the word about a book this way was when I first read The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon. That’s not saying these books belong in the same category. It’s just that they are both well written, powerful works with a message worth absorbing.
The short description of A Perfect Madness reads…
It is the autumn of 1938 when Julia Kaufmann meets Erich Schmidt while studying medicine at the German University in Prague. With Hitler’s army soon to invade the city and the terror of World War II looming, it is the worst of times for a Jew and a German to fall in love.
Honestly, I downloaded this book because, from the short description it sounded like a period romance. While there is a romantic relationship explored in the book, it is a small part of the whole. A Perfect Madness follows Erich and Julia from their first meeting in Prague to their final encounter 54 years later in the same city. As the story follows them through the war, you see Julia finding the strength and courage to battle a true evil and you see a good young man, Erich, succumbing to his fears. Before reading A Perfect Madness, I could never understand how so many people got sucked into the evil Nazi machine. But, by reading this book, for the first time, I could see how it happened. I could see how seemingly good (but ultimately weak) people gave into their fears and justified their descent into evil in small but twisted steps. It would never be something I could accept (who could accept evil) but I could understand the process. Early in the book, Erich recoiled from the very notion of eugenics, when he was faced with the choice of killing physically and mentally handicapped children or risking his own life, he talked himself into being okay with the process by saying he was showing them mercy and relieving their suffering. By understanding what happened, it gives us the knowledge we need to make sure this horror never happens again.
A Perfect Madness is a beautifully written book that deals with a horrible period in history. Frank Marsh is a master researcher and has grounded his fictional tale of WWII deep in the real history of the events. While you may need to take breaks from reading, you will never regret picking up this book.