1945 - Blow, Blow your Trumpets
1945. Time to wrap things up.
The Soviets liberate the Lodz ghetto, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Ravensbruck. The Americans liberate Ohrdruf, Dachau and Buchenwald (after the prisoners take out the guards). And the British liberate Bergen-Belsen, but not before Anne Frank dies of typhus, along with too many Jews and other prisoners murdered by the Nazis.
President Roosevelt dies of a massive cerebral hemorrhage. Mussolini and his mistress are executed by Italian partisans while trying to flee the country, and Adolph Hitler and Eva Braun commit suicide.
Some loose ends:
Germany: Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda commit suicide after killing their six children. Germany unconditionally surrenders and is divided between the Allied occupation forces. The Nazi party is dissolved.
Japan: The country is dithering with its unconditional surrender. To hurry things up, President Truman launches an atomic bomb at Nagasaki, and another one at Hiroshima, two days later. Japan unconditionally surrenders. August 15 is V-J day.
The War: World War II is officially over. May 8 is VE day.
Global: The Arab League is formed, the United Nations is formed, Iran demands that British and Soviet forces leave its territory, and the Zionist World Congress approaches the British government about founding the state of Israel.
Today’s book: I’d like to be done by this point, but a book still needs to be reviewed. Therefore, I’m going to go today with Blow, Blow your Trumpets by Shamus Frazer, a book satirizing the Biblical Flood, which seemed appropriate considering everything humanity just went through.
James Ian Arbuthnot Frazer (1912–1966), AKA Shamus Frazer is mostly a mystery for the internet. What little information I could gather about the author was pieced together from the dedication in the book, and his memorial (which I consider to be oddly appropriate considering the year).
Frazer was a poet, and author of satires and ghost stories. During World II he served as a Royal Marines office. After the war he lectured in a university in Singapore. He later returned to England and became a history and English teacher, at Bethany School in Goudhurst, Kent. Towards the end of his life, he converted to Catholicism, shortly before dying of lung cancer; a result of his chainsmoking while writing and correcting.
Frazer’s satire is ruthless and can probably compete with anything written by Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett. His first novel Acorned Hog (1933) depicts a socialist dystopia in a near future Britain where universities are closed, and students are sent to work the soil as the monarchy reestablishes feudalism and industry is banned to America. Shroud as well as a Shirt (1935) describes from an anti-fascist point of view a succession of Near Future political conflicts that culminate in a world war. Blow, Blow Your Trumpets, the book which I read, describes the biblical civilization from the pre-flood period, a civilization in which magic is rife and corruption is rampant.
The setting of the story is very loosely based on the descriptions of the Antediluvian world, the pre-flood world, that appear in the bible and the Book of Enoch. All the names of the characters and places are taken from Hebrew, Aramaic and ancient Chaldean, and translations are provided at the beginning, but they are largely irrelevant to the story. The premise is that in this period in which angels and human woman freely mate to create heroes and semi-divine bastards, divine magic is a form of alimony and also the root of human civilization. In this period there are three kingdoms: The Empire of Madmen (dunghill), the Tyranny of Madmana (dungheap), and the Forests of the Children of Cain. The first two civilizations heavily rely on magic provided by angels, while the children of Cain have a secret alliance with the devils. Noah is a duke of Madmen.
The book itself is divided into three parts: Peace, War, and Deluge. In Peace we are introduced to Noah, an old-fashioned man who abhors all things magic, and is convinced it will bring about the downfall of humanity. Noah is married to Dodai and lives on a remote plantation where he is raising his foster daughter, Timna, and Japheth who is still a teenager. Ham has a commission in the imperial army and Shem is head of the Angelic soul exchange, where every financial transaction is recorded and used to determine the value/worth of a person’s soul after their death.
The book begins with Timna’s introduction to the emperor’s court, where we get to experience her woes with Noah’s insistence on driving an old fashioned magic carpet instead of the latest model, and this requires the services of a curate from one of the angelic filling stations. Fortunately, Timna’s socialite biological mother is passing by and she rescues Timna and Dodai and takes them to the palace where Timna can experience the attention of angelic benefactors. Later in the book they will all go together to see visions of the future at the future palaces, and be entertained by a prominent murderess at a dinner party.
In the second part, War, the Emperor of Madmen is murdered by the Tyrant of Madmana and this triggers a war. Everyone needs to do their part even if it means using weapons produced by fallen angels. Shem resigns his commission when he finds out that the Angelic soul exchange is financing these weapons behind the shareholder’s back and condemning them to hell. Ham manages to survive the war with the help of one of the daughters of Cain who is determined to escape her assigned marriage to Moloch, and Japheth becomes a communist. The decision to use Satanic weapons is the straw that broke the camel’s back, and God declares a deluge and withdraws all angelic magic from humanity, triggering the collapse of human civilization prior to its destruction. I was pretty much with God on this one.
I enjoyed the book, even if I didn’t enjoy the year. The satire is funny and relevant even for today when corruption in the service of the right agenda receives a blind eye from too many (a statement which applies equally to all political camps), and there is plenty of moral decadence to go around. The portrayals of the various characters and political machinations help flesh out what is mostly an unknown period in biblical history, and the inclusion of a map (created by a mysterious Captain J. H. Graham of the Royal Marines) definitely helps flesh out the various lands being described.
Unfortunately, there were only two copies of this book available on Abebooks (now one). The book has not been scanned digitally, and I’m not lending out my only copy. If someone wants to embark on a quest to acquire the last physical copy of this book available online, let me know how it goes because it’s sure to be a fascinating story.
The Omer today is splendor in kingship. Yeah, no. There was no splendor in 1945, not right after World War II and the Holocaust ended. That’s going to take a few more years to accomplish. There is plenty of kingship to go around though as Germany was toppled, the Japanese emperor surrendered his power, and the ancient kingdoms of humanity were drowned by the biblical flood. Yes, exiled governments were also restored to power, but I don’t see any splendor in this, not when you’ve got 70-85 million people dead, including six million Jews, because of the corrupt desires of one person. Splendor can be found in some different day. Tonight it’s only kingship, those that are thank God gone, those that are restored, and those that will be created in just a few years, one of which I am blessed to live in today.