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49


L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 49, June 30, 1999

Letters to the Editor

by Our Readers

Send Letters to TLE@johntaylor.org


Letter from Chris Whitten, with review of The Mitzvah by Thomas L. Knapp

L. Neil and Aaron Zelman,

           Congratulations. "The Mitzvah" is the July Freedom Book of the Month on Free-Market.Net.
           Tom Knapp's review of your book is below. This was sent out to the FBOTM e-mail list and is on the Web at: http://www.free-market.net/features/bookofthemonth/ http://www.free-market.net/features/bookofthemonth/ It is also linked from the FMN home page. http://www.free-market.net/features/bookofthemonth/ I hope it brings you a little extra well-deserved attention.

...

Yours in liberty,

Chris Whitten
chris@free-market.net


-------- Original Message --------
From: "Free-Market.Net"
Subject: Freedom Book of the Month: The Mitzvah
To: FBOTM List Members

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Free-Market.Net's  F r e e d o m    B o o k   o f   t  h e   M o n t h
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Edited by Thomas L. Knapp. To subscribe or unsubscribe to this and other lists, click to: http://www.free-market.net/features/lists/

July, 1999

THE MITZVAH
by L. Neil Smith and Aaron Zelman
Mazel Freedom Press
$7.95 ($10.95 postage paid)

           Throughout history, the Jews have suffered persecution. They've been enslaved, dispersed over the face of the earth, and subjected to expropriation, ghettoization, and pogrom. They have been barred from professions, forced into the banking industry by a church that forbade its adherents to charge interest, and reviled for their success in it. These atrocities form part of the core of what we commonly call "The Jewish Experience."
           There is, however, another key component to that experience: Throughout history, when they have faced their darkest days, the Jews have fought. In the alleyways of Jerusalem. At Masada. In the Warsaw Ghetto. On the frontier kibbutzim, and in the arid Negev from which the Jews have carved their modern state and held it against all comers.
           The Jews have fought. While historical persecution may be key to their identity, their willingness to fight for that identity is certainly key to their survival as a people. Those among them who attempt to negate that principle do their culture a disservice.
           It is fitting that Aaron Zelman of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership should collaborate with L. Neil Smith, the most prolific living libertarian novelist -- and arguably the most effective advocate of the right to keep and bear arms -- in producing "The Mitzvah."
           The premise of the novel is straightforward enough: The protagonist, Monsignor John Greenwood, finds his world turned upside down by the revelation that he is one of the many Jewish survivors of the Holocaust who was hidden and eventually adopted by a Catholic family after his parents were taken by the Nazis. As he begins to explore his heritage, Greenwood comes face to face with what the policies he advocated as a liberal priest have accomplished.
           It isn't a pretty picture.
           Those who are familiar with Zelman and Smith know that neither is given to pulling punches. The right to keep and bear arms -- in its pure, unadulterated form -- receives cogent support both in an elaboration of the historical experience of the Jewish people and in the events of Greenwood's life as they unfold. The novel certainly succeeds as an admonition to those in the Jewish community who are all too quick to place their trust in a government whose recent actions hearken back to the days of the cattlecars and the gas chamber.
           "The Mitzvah" succeeds on another level, too. It's a damn good story. Smith and Zelman have ably rendered the shock and confusion of Greenwood as he enters into a world that Hitler's thugs deprived him of, the world of Judaism. They make real the love of freedom that motivated many who survived the Holocaust to emigrate to the United States, and the horror they feel as they watch this country sliding down the slippery slope of gun control (or, as Smith accurately names it, "victim disarmament"), official murder, and political and religious oppression. They bring to life the lady who carries a pistol in her purse because she knows that the police only arrive after the fact.
           Buy this book. And while you're at it, make a contribution to JPFO. No, I don't care where you go to church. It's not about that. As Reinhold Niebuhr said, "First, they came for the Jews ...." If "they" had found themselves, the very first time they came, staring down the muzzle of a loaded rifle, that might have been the end, rather than the beginning, of the Holocaust.

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The Freedom Book of the Month is a feature of Free-Market.Net. http://www.free-market.net/features/bookofthemonth/
Opinions expressed are purely those of our writers and editors.
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Back to the Letters to the Editor page
Table of Contents to return to The Libertarian Enterprise, Number 49, June 30, 1999.