Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Book Review: The Budapest Protocol by Adam LeBor

It sounded promising. The Nazis lost the war, but what if they had put in place the economic and business tools to later revive their fortunes and create the Fourth Reich decades later?

One for the conspiracy theorists, who I fear may take it literally, as the European Union is the vehicle used to implement their dastardly plan. Hungary and the other Eastern European members of the EU are at the heart of the conspiracy with plots to wipe out the Romany population and frequent mention of the Jewish situation.

Of course the book requires a hero to save the day. Step forward Alex, a journalist dealing with the stress of his harrowing experience as a war correspondent in the former Yugoslavia. Alex is part Hungarian, part Jewish, part English, and the the link to the past, when the Nazis met in Budapest to plot their post-WW II rise to power, is his grandfather who just happened to be a waiter in the hotel where the meeting took place. The way Alex stumbles across his grandfather's notes, that lead to his attempt to save Europe is as unconvincing as the characters, the plot and the whole course of events portrayed in the book.

It's as if a 10 year old has been let loose on a word processor, a not very imaginative 10 year old at that. After ploughing on through the book I still have no sympathy for Alex, Natasha or any of the other characters portrayed in it. Any breakthroughs in trying to break the conspiracy seem to happen by accident, as they would in the imagination of a 10 year old. The discovery of a 'smart drug' that only sterilises Romany women, no others, stretches credibility that bit too far and typifies the simplistic writing that ruins a good idea.

When one of the minor characters manages to get hundreds of thousands of demonstrators onto the streets, with an armoured tractor and the means to overthrow the corrupt government by making a few mobile phone calls, you know that the proportion of your life spent reading this book has been wasted.

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