Jacob's Oath: Book summary and reviews of Jacob's Oath by Martin Fletcher

Jacob's Oath

by Martin Fletcher

Jacob's Oath
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2013
    336 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

Martin Fletcher's Jacob's Oath is a heart-wrenching and heartwarming thriller about the consequences of revenge that will be a huge word-of-mouth and book club favorite.

As World War II winds to a close, Europe's roads are clogged with twenty million exhausted refugees walking home. Among them are Jacob and Sarah, lonely Holocaust survivors who meet in Heidelberg. But Jacob is consumed with hatred and cannot rest until he has killed his brother's murderer, a concentration camp guard nicknamed "The Rat." Now he must choose between revenge and love, between avenging the past and building a future.

Martin Fletcher, who won the National Jewish Book Award for Walking Israel, proved his chops as a novelist with The List, which was selected as the One Book, One Jewish Community title for the city of Philadelphia. Now, Fletcher brings us another touching novel of love, loyalty, and loss, set in the aftermath of the Holocaust.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"The taut prose and multidimensional protagonists help make this a page-turner." - Publishers Weekly

"While some of the characters feel hollow, Fletcher does a particularly good job of bringing the titular character to life, imbuing him with a dark side brought to the fore by the horrors he's experienced. An expressive and generally well-told story of love and hatred, revenge and recovery." - Kirkus

"A moving love story... A small gem of a novel." - Booklist

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Reader Reviews

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Carolyn V. (Douglass, KS)

A different view of the Holocaust
I enjoyed this book and it's characters. I found the way Jacob dealt with his grief and desire for revenge very satisfying. The book's ending was good without being too neat and perfect.

Barbara L. (Novato, CA)

Jacob's 0ath
I loved this book although it was difficult to read about the atrocities of the war. The theme of revenge was prominent, but more so the theme of love, human resilience, and hope. When everything has been taken away from both Jacob and Sarah, their homes, their families, their loves, their dignity, they still somehow find a way to begin again and build a new life.This story of the strength of the human spirit is inspiring as well as deeply satisfying.

Gunta K. (Glens Falls, NY)

The Indistructable Spirit of the Human
The human spirit is indestructable. This has been shown in our human history over and over again. It is also so in Martin Fletcher's novel. This is a diary of various moments in the lives of Jacob and Sarah during WW II and its aftermath. Having lost everything, family, home all support systems, totally subjected to the kind of torture we humans are capable of, these two Jews try to survive in an environment that hates them. Jacob is a survivor of Bergen-Belsen, torture camp for Jews. He witnessed the killing of his little brother. Sarah had lost the love of her life, Hoppi, one night in a deserted cemetery she prematurely gives birth to her baby. Baby is born dead. She is alone and terrified as the chance of her life coming to an end instantly either at the hands of the Soviets or the Nazis is a given. Sarah and Joseph meet by chance while hiding and together attempt to survive mentally and physically. Sarah has many emotional scars.The vivid descriptions of foraging for food, cigarette butts, as well as safety are very vivid. Sarah is helped by an American GI after being brutally raped. The soldier takes her to a hospital. Eventually Sarah and Jacob fall in love. They are not able to move on with their lives until Jacob is able to avenge the murder of his little brother Maxie. The psychological scars are receding somewhat for the two of them but all is definitely not well. There are many moments here in this novel where I had to put the book down and go for a little walk to air out my head. It is an amazing, yet, a very disturbing story. Surely required reading for generations who are interested in WW II and those who are interested in what exactly happened in the now distant past. There are not many left who can tell the human history of WW2 in the first person. We must read and learn about those times so as to help prevent this from ever happening again. This book is a lesson in geography, human prejudice, fear, and above all history.

Eve A. (Henderson, NV)

Jacob's Oath
As I was reading this book, I kept thinking of one tree standing as part of a forest. This story is one of many that make up the Holocaust. Painful at times to read because of the harshness of the details, there was a definite uplifting quality to it. It is a story about the fight between the desire for revenge and the desire for a new life filled with hope and love. It is the past waging war against the future. I found this book to be well written and thought provoking. There is much in this story that can be discussed.

Linda C. (Carlisle, MA)

Aftermath of WWII
Not often does one find a book that focuses on the plight of the refugees at the end of WW II, and almost never a very real insight into the overwhelming challenges the Holocaust survivors faced. This book quickly drew me in, and gave me a capsule view of two such survivors. Jacob and Sarah meet in a very unlikely way in Heidelberg at the end of the war. Both have survived unimaginable horror and trauma. Jacob, with a deep, revengeful anger toward his brother's SS murderer, and Sarah with unfathomable pain from the horror and loss she endured. Together they have to try and work through this past into beginning to build a future and this is the focus of the story. It was informative, emotional, suspenseful, and I find myself thinking about it over and over. Great book group book!

Lauren T. (Orlando, FL)

Jacob's Oath by Martin Fletcher
Why return to a place when there is nothing left? Why not return? "When can a good person do a bad thing?" These are the primary questions dealt with in this very well-written novel about the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust. The story follows two young Jews who have had very different war experiences but are both broken in their own ways. The reader learns who they were and who they have become and watches them struggle with making a new life while still dealing with what happened to the old one. This book will make you think. It made me want to read more by this author.

...12 more reader reviews

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Martin Fletcher, Special Correspondent, NBC News, has won five Emmies, a Columbia University Dupont award, and several Overseas Press Club awards. He served as the former NBC News Bureau Chief in Tel Aviv for many years, and now splits his time between Israel and New York City.

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