I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
A Ray of Light by Russell Phillips
Published by Shilka Publishing on July 18th 2016
Genres: Genocide & War Crimes, History, Holocaust, Military, Political Science, World War II
Buy on Amazon US | The Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Buy on Amazon UK
I did not know the story of Lidice. It’s fascinating, horrendous, yet heart-warming.
Assassination and reprisals
In 1942 an assassination attempt was made on Reinhard Heydrich, a senior Nazi and one of the architects of the Holocaust. In retribution, Hitler ordered a full-scale search for the assassins. Based on tenuous evidence that they had been given safe shelter in the village of Lidice in Czechoslovakia, Hitler ordered the men of Lidice to be shot, and the women and children sent to an extermination camp. The complete village was then bulldozed. Nothing remained of Lidice.
Remarkably, despite Hitler wanting to wipe Lidice off the face of the earth, the very opposite happened. Under the leadership of a city councilor in the English city of Stoke-on-Trent, local miners got together to raise funds for a new village to be constructed. Donations were received globally. In 1947 the construction work started. A new Lidice arose.
Excellently written and produced
The book’s full title is “A Ray of Light: Reinhard Heydrich, Lidice, and the North Staffordshire Miners”. It’s a lovely little book. It’s well written, obviously well researched, and conveys the story simply, clearly and compellingly. It’s been well edited, is error-free, and has been given an attractive cover. (For some insights into reviewing Indie books, check out this post).
It covers all the major elements of the story. It gives a brief history of Heydrich, outlining his leading role in Kristallnacht and the running of the death camps. The author – Russell Phillips – explains the history behind Germany’s seizing of Czechoslovakia and the growth of the resistance movement. He focuses on the two Czechs charged with carrying out the assassination of Heydrich, and their eventual assassination attempt.
The descriptions of the reprisals are not easy reading, but the rebuilding of Lidice is a triumph of good over evil. It’s a wonderful example of how empathy and generosity can rebuild what hatred and revenge has destroyed.
It’s a story that deserves to be read and remembered.