History of von Schatt (1913-1960) | Critical Book Review

Richard Daub’s “History of von Schatt (1913-1960)” delves into the life of Heinrich von Schatt, offering a rollercoaster of a historical fiction that oscillates between farcical, disturbing, and captivating. The narrative spans five tumultuous decades, traversing continents and oceans against the backdrop of two world wars and significant societal shifts. While undeniably engaging, Daub’s depiction of von Schatt’s life reveals a man whose journey is as perplexing as it is unsettling.

A Fateful Beginning: Unconventional Origins

Heinrich von Schatt’s entrance into the world is far from auspicious. Born to a nameless fifteen-year-old girl desperate to escape an arranged marriage, his father, the pseudonymous “Christian Schmidt,” sweeps in to rescue her. The ensuing shotgun wedding leads to an unexpected life in Eisenbach, setting the stage for von Schatt’s unconventional upbringing and eventual entanglement with the Bavarian Army.

From Clockmaker to Soldier: Unraveling Threads of Fate

As von Schatt’s life takes a military turn, Daub paints a vivid picture of his enlistment and training, overseen by none other than Lance Corporal Adolf Hitler. The unexpected twists in von Schatt’s journey, marked by thoughtless cruelty and surprising acts of heroism, propel the narrative forward with both pace and excitement.

A Sea Change: Nautical Adventures and Personal Transformation

Heinrich’s love for the sea becomes the defining theme of his life, leading him to embark on a maritime career at an astonishingly young age. Daub masterfully narrates von Schatt’s evolution from a cocksure youngster to a formidable captain, illustrating the strengths and failings that characterize his journey on the ocean wave.

The Enigmatic Antihero: Beneath the Surface

While von Schatt’s life is punctuated by moments of heroism, Daub deliberately positions him as an antihero. The narrative skillfully keeps his deepest feelings and motivations veiled, portraying him as an enigmatic figure with an unwavering determination that distances him from other characters. The story unfolds, revealing von Schatt’s complexity without necessarily peeling back the layers of his psyche.

Capturing the Imagination: A Darkly Amusing Tale

Despite its darkness, warfare, and tragedy, “History of von Schatt (1913-1960)” remains a highly amusing story. Daub’s portrayal of Heinrich’s turbulent life, the monumental events surrounding him, and the eccentric characters he encounters contribute to a surreal and thought-provoking narrative. While von Schatt may not win hearts, he undeniably captures the imagination in this complex and multifaceted exploration of a troubled man’s odyssey.

PublisherGenrePrint LengthISBN
IndieBookViewHistorical Fiction / Literary230 pages9781946094056

Richard Daub’s “History of von Schatt (1913-1960)” delves into the life of Heinrich von Schatt, offering a rollercoaster of a historical fiction that oscillates between farcical, disturbing, and captivating. The narrative spans five tumultuous decades, traversing continents and oceans against the backdrop of two world wars and significant societal shifts. While undeniably engaging, Daub’s depiction…