The Caduceus and the Swastika
“The harrowing flight of three medical students and their professor as the insulated world of academia crumbles under the onslaught of Nazism.”
Steven Hacker’s fantastic debut novel, The Caduceus and the Swastika, begins quietly enough, focusing on the small-scale academic and romantic challenges of Max, Rebecca, and Stats, a trio of medical students at the University of Breslau’s medical school. But the plot and the cast of characters steadily expand as the perspective becomes more wide-angle and begins to take in the dark forces of Nazism and rabid nationalism beginning to convulse Germany. The Reich begins to implement severe racist guidelines for the medical profession, and the trio of students and the larger cast are caught up in that tide of barbarism.
Hacker expertly mixes fictional characters with historical figures and brings them all to life with marvelous effectiveness, especially through vivid, often pungent dialog. This is a tense, vividly memorable novel, not to be missed.