“Recently a book I had written, The Devil’s Chosen, was awarded the Eric Hoffer Award for Legacy Fiction. The Devil’s Chosen examines the context and process of decisions during the Holocaust. The book was first published by iUniverse in 2005, and other than being an Editor’s Choice selection by iUniverse, this award was the first significant and independent endorsement of the quality and potential importance of this book. As every author knows, writing can be a very lonely endeavor, and writing about the Holocaust can be lonelier still. The Holocaust is such a sensitive and difficult subject, charged with so many deep and fierce emotions and conflicts. I had no idea how anyone would receive The Devil’s Chosen. The response has in fact been almost universally favorable, though some people find the book quite difficult to read.”
“I have long been interested in how ordinary people make decisions in times of extreme duress, times of war, of famine, of ethnic cleansing, in times such as the Holocaust in the Second World War. In 1999 I found myself closing the United States operations of an Australian company. In the process of calling land owners to inform them that we would not renew their leases, I discovered that one land owner was a survivor of the Holocaust. I asked him if I could come to Los Angeles and conduct an interview. He agreed, and that initiated a series of interviews and an extensive, personal reading program of a small part of the vast Holocaust literature.”
“As an example of some of the worst of our cruelty to each other, the Holocaust is comprised of an endless series of decisions, made by generally very ordinary people, as victims, as perpetrators, and as bystanders. In writing The Devil’s Chosen I decided to examine the day to day context of those decisions, how and why people made the decisions by which they had to live, or die. I determined the best approach was to develop a series of allegorical stories based on the facts of my interviews and the Holocaust literature. In these stories, I tried to put the reader, and myself, in the shoes of each person, to force an understanding of the pressures and fears that overwhelmed their lives, and to provide the basis for an understanding of the unique circumstances of each person’s existence and experience during the Holocaust. The book was written, quite deliberately, to disturb the reader, to force the reader to confront his or her own life and ask themselves how they might have behaved in the same circumstances. If we are truthful with ourselves, this can be a very uncomfortable exercise.”
iUniverse The Devil’s Chosen- a success?
“Some have told me that I became obsessed with the writing of The Devil’s Chosen, and I believe that is an accurate statement. I’m not sure that I could have completed the book without it becoming an obsession. One of the Holocaust survivors, when I interviewed him, asked me what I hoped to accomplish by writing the book. I told him that if one person read the book, and if that one person could then recognize their prejudice and change the way they treated the people around them, then I would consider the book a complete success. Sometime later, when the book was completed, I told him that I knew it was a success because I knew that it had changed at least one person’s view of the world, my own.”
To learn more about The Devil’s Chosen and author Robert W. Barker’s other titles visit the iUniverse Bookstore or see iUniverse author Robert W. Barker wins Hoffer Award.
See iUniverse Publishing: Lest We Forget on the iUniverse Blog for more iUniverse books about the Holocaust.