Book Review: Shadows Walking by Douglas R. Skopp

"...indifference to the sufferings that one causes...,even if it is given other names, is a terrible and permanent form of cruelty." Marcel Proust

The foreword was written by E. Thomas Moran, Ph.D.
In the foreword a statement is made that profoundly lays the ground work for the book Shadows Walking.
"No comprehensible explanation for the Holocaust. It was as indifferent to human suffering as an earthquake that indiscriminately swallows lives...But...the Shoah was conceived and carried out by human beings who could see into the eyes and hear the cries of those they willfully destroyed."

Shadows Walking is the story of two men: Johann Brenner and Philipp Stein. Each of these men are given a voice in the story, but it will be Johann that is the prominent character. These men had known each other since they were children. Their friendship continued through medical school--each taking the Hippocratic Oath. Philipp made a comment once in that "who wants to be a saint, being a doctor is close enough." Philipp's remark is a haunting and acerbic premonition of things to come.
When the book begins Johann is a janitor working in the building where the Nuremberg trials are being held after World War II. Johann is apparently in hiding. He often stops his work to sit in the courtroom and listen to the trials. While listening to the testimonies of those on trial, Johann remembers his own past and holds court in his mind. 
This is not a feel good book, not a book that when your finished you go ahhhh what a wonderful story.
Yet, this is an exceptionally realistic and haunting story.
I'm glad I had the opportunity to read this book!
I have read many books on the Holocaust and World War II. In a fiction story of this genre a love story is often interjected, I guess to make the story more like-able. This is not a romantic tale. The focus of Shadows Walking is the serious and life-altering choices that were made by two men, what led up to their choices, and what the result of their choices were.
In Shadows Walking I was pleased that the author did not try and make either character like-able or unlikeable, he told their stories from their own voices and thoughts, which gave the reader all the information needed to abhor and condemn, or to clamor the injustice.
Through Johann and Philipp the history of Germany between the two world wars is given, the feelings that German's had and the economic hardship. He described their fear of the future, starvation, bartering, poverty, hopelessness, anger over the boundary changes in the German territory, and the betrayal and stinging pride from their defeat.
The book explores the feelings that many German's had, in that they felt the Jew's were to blame for all of their troubles. This was a horrifying excuse. Even though the book gives an explanation, this does not mean the book is in agreement that this excuse could ever justify their murderous actions.
The book follows the years of Hitler's gaining popularity in the 1920's, his control and dominance during the 1930's, and the years of World War II from Poland's defeat until the ultimate surrender of Germany. 
The destruction of Germany during World War II is described, as well as the experiences and feelings of the civilians during the war and afterwards.
I felt Shadows Walking is a psychological analysis in trying to explain why people chose (especially those that were physicians) to take part in murdering the Jew's during the Holocaust.
Shadow's Walking is absorbing, I felt as if I was apart of the story or at least in a front row seat watching the characters become swept up in the frenzy of Hitler's march against humanity.

Thank you to Douglas R. Skopp and Amy Bruno at Historical Fiction Blog Tours for my free review copy!

Printed by CreateSpace 2010
482 pages
Historical Fiction/World War II/Holocaust/Nuremberg Trials

Link for the book @ Amazon:
Paperback $16.20
Kindle $7.77

Link to Douglas R. Skopp's WEBSITE:
Twitter Event Hashtag: #ShadowsWalkingVirtualBookTour

SYNOPSIS: Johann Brenner, an idealistic physician and ardent German nationalist, has joined the Nazi Party and willingly participated in its  "crimes against humanity." His Jewish childhood friend, Philipp Stein, has also become a doctor. Their lives inevitably intersect until their last, fateful meeting.
After the war, Brenner, with stolen papers and a new name, has become a janitor in the courthouse where the Nuremberg Trials are being held. Hoping to "heal himself" and wishing to begin a new life with his estranged wife, he decides that he must write her a letter telling what he has done and why.

Brenner's letter sets the theme for each chapter of Shadows Walking. Through his letter, we see him admit his choices and their consequences as he slips deeper and deeper into the brutality of the Third Reich.

Shadows Walking Virtual Tour Schedule

Monday, November 7th
Review at Impressions in Ink
Thursday, November 10th
Review at Small World Reads
Monday, November 14th
Review at A Bookish Affair
Thursday, November 17th
Review at The Book Garden
Monday, November 21st
Author Interview at A Bookish Affair
Thursday, November 24th
Review at Confessions of a Book Hoarder
Monday, November 28th
Author Guest Post at Confessions of a Book Hoarder
Blissful Reading!


  1. Excellent review. Not making excuses for what happened, but it is important to explore the reasons why the situation was ripe for what happened in Germany. Terrible events that should continued to be explored and learned from.

  2. Thank you so very much for your thoughtful review of my novel. I am indeed grateful for your sensitive reading of it, and for seeing that I do not attempt to justify what the Nazis did. Rather, I have tried to understand their motives, through the exploration of the life of one well-intentioned physician who makes choices, one after the other, that send him down a slippery slope, with disastrous consequences for everyone he loved and respected, and for himself.
    With every good wish, Douglas R. Skopp

  3. Great review, Annette! I am really glad that you enjoyed Shadows Walking and I appreciate you hosting the tour!

  4. Thank you Jenny, Amy and Mr. Skopp for your kind remarks!
    Thank you again Mr. Skopp for the your graciousness on my review on Amazon!

  5. Like those above have said, great review! I think it's terribly important that books like this continue to be read, appreciated and understood. I'm definitely looking forward to reading this!

  6. And I thank you, too. With every good wish, Doug Skopp


Post a Comment