The Iron Bridge: Short Stories of 20th Century Dictators as Teenagers

Anton Piatigorsky, Author
Anton Piatigorsky. Steerforth (Random, dist.), $15 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-58642-218-9
Reviewed on: 06/10/2013
Release date: 07/09/2013
Paperback - 267 pages - 978-0-86492-674-6
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-86492-751-4
Ebook - 130 pages - 978-1-58642-219-6
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The 20th century’s most bloodthirsty tyrants are given humble beginnings in this collection of six stories by acclaimed playwright Piatigorsky. Through smart dialogue and revealing internal monologue, he brings to life the teenage years of Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, and Idi Amin, among others. Though it is difficult to separate these young men from the horrible acts they will later commit, Piatigorsky circumvents readers’ preconceptions by drawing on small moments that humanize his protagonists, instead of pinpointing exactly when things went wrong. The use of nicknames (Adi for Hitler, Soso for Stalin) is especially deft in drawing attention away from the historical inevitabilities. Though the descriptive prose is periodically stale and forced, Piatigorsky’s experience as a playwright comes through in quick and entertaining dialogue that feels true to the varied time periods and sustains momentum through each long story. When the young Adi Hitler defensively says, “It is a terrible mistake to judge an artist by the same standard as one would judge an artisan,” the comment is not just true to history, but revealing of a historical monster’s human side. (July)
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