Cover image for Just revenge
Just revenge
Dershowitz, Alan M.
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Publication Information:
New York : Warner Books, 1999.
Physical Description:
322 pages ; 24 cm
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One of the foremost courtroom lawyers of his generation. Alan M. Dershowitz takes controversial stands based on the principle of equal justice for all. Along the way, he has authored the #1 New York Times bestseller Chutzpah; the bestselling account of the Claus von Bulow case Reversal of Fortune; and the bestselling courtroom drama The Advocate's Devil. Now Dershowitz has written a novel that is at once personal, passionate, and towering: an explosive legal thriller that pits Dershowitz's literary alter ego, attorney Abe Ringel, against the worst crime of the twentieth century -- the Holocaust.

What if you witnessed the most abominable deeds that human beings can inflict upon each other? What if you came face-to-face with the very man who had slaughtered your family before your eyes? That is the question confronted by a celebrated professor named Max Menuchen. Max has found the man who had killed his entire family in cold blood more than a half century before. Max, who has never before broken a law, cannot turn down his chance for revenge.

In 1943 Marcellus Prandus was a Lithuanian militia captain who carried out the blood-thirsty orders of his Nazi commanders during World War II. Today he is an old man living outside Boston. For Max, who has discovered Prandus's identity by chance, killing him is not enough, because Prandus is already dying of cancer. How can Max make Prandus suffer exactly as Max himself did? Can Max bring himself to assassinate Prandus's children and grandchildren and make the old man watch his family die, as Max himself was forced to do?

By the time defense attorney Abe Ringel enters the case, Max has carried out an astounding act of revenge, and America'sgreat Holocaust trial has begun: an explosive legal and moral struggle to find the light of justice within the darkness of human evil. With Max facing almost certain conviction, Ringel desperately tries to prove his actions we

Author Notes

Attorney and bestselling author Alan M. Dershowitz was first in his class at Yale Law School.

Dershowitz was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal and the youngest full professor in the history of Harvard Law School. He is currently the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard University. He has served on the National Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union. Dershowitz has represented many controversial clients, including O. J. Simpson, Claus von Bulow, Mike Tyson, Leona Helmsley and Patricia Hearst.

His books include Reasonable Doubt (about the O. J. Simpson trial) and Sexual McCarthyism: Clinton, Starr, and the Emerging Constitutional Crisis.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In a novel dedicated to family members killed during the Holocaust, Dershowitz reanimates Abraham Ringel, first introduced in Advocate's Devil (1995), for a second foray into a fictional courtroom. As expected, renowned defense attorney Dershowitz is comfortable with legal mechanics. The courtroom drama--from the jury selection to the verdict--is realistic enough, and the question at the story's heart--Is there such a thing as a just revenge?--is certainly intriguing. But Dershowitz's dialogue is stiff and sometimes trite ("there's something inside of you that you has to get out"), and the first part of the novel is surprisingly undramatic, even though it sets up the tragic, twisted history that gives rise to the case: Holocaust survivor Max Menuchen, an unpretentious, 74-year-old biblical scholar, discovers the whereabouts of the man who raped his sister and slaughtered the rest of his family during the war. With the aid of a friend, he implements a clever plan: kidnap the man, convince him that his own beloved family has been murdered, and abet his suicide. The moral dilemma may keep some readers involved, and Dershowitz's celebrity may draw some requests, but fans of such masters of the courtroom drama as John Grisham or Richard North Patterson won't have much patience with this subpar effort. --Stephanie Zvirin

Publisher's Weekly Review

Who determines justice? In this thought-provoking and ambitious novel, lawyer and Harvard professor Dershowitz creates a decide-for-yourself scenario that is both chilling and life affirming. Elderly scholar Max Menuchen is a Holocaust survivor who endures haunting memories of the 1942 massacre of his infant son, pregnant wife and extended family in Vilna, Lithuania. His grandfather's last cry for revenge echoes constantly in his mind, even after he emigrates to America and builds a successful career. Finally, after a lifetime of survivor guilt, a chance encounter in Cambridge, Mass., leads him to the Nazi killer of his family, Marcelus Prandus, who lives nearby, surrounded by his children and grandchildren, his past never revealed to his American-born family. To prosecute him for war crimes appears to be futileÄPrandus is terminally ill and would die before any trial came to pass. Overcome with frustration and a burning need to avenge his family's deaths, MaxÄan otherwise gentle, kindly academicÄconceives a plan to punish Prandus that is both shocking and brilliant. Ultimately, a psychologically devastated Prandus takes his own life. Is Max responsible for his death? Were his actions morally acceptable? And of immediate relevance, were they legal? Defense lawyer Abe RingelÄreturning from Dershowitz's previous novel The Advocate's DevilÄtakes on his old friend Max's case and seeks to prove that retribution and justice are not irreconcilable. Full of clever twists, Dershowitz's latest endeavor is intricately plotted, though the dialogue is on the stiff side and frequently more utilitarian than conversational. Subtlety is not Dershowitz's strong suit, nor is literary finesse, but he makes up for these shortcomings with the dramatic and tragic events that frame the plot, and the intensity of his moral argument. He dedicates the novel to the members of his family who were killed by the Nazis and their collaborators. Agent, Helen Rees. 5-city author tour. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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