The adolescent son of a well-off Jewish family living a comfortable,
sheltered life in Yugoslavia faces persecution. The
family endures a harrowing voyage down the Danube River,
hoping to reach pre-State Israel.
Two Princes and a Queen is a fascinating, heart-rending book. It is well written, avoiding the pitfalls of debut novels and memoirs. Despite the writer's personal connection with the protagonists of the affair, he does not become sentimental, nor does he try to paint a pretty picture of the facts or glorify the main characters. The David family, just like other characters in the story, had their world turned upside down, and they reacted to the ensuing mayhem like any ordinary flesh-and-blood people, complete with their fortes and foibles. Though the writer could and did use a degree of poetic license, he did not abuse it in a saccharine way or for the sake of artificial closure. Truth is stranger than fiction, and he let truth have its say. Out of curiosity to learn about a historical event with which I had not been familiar, I read the book only after browsing the web for relevant information. Thus from the very beginning, I knew what would become of its characters. Nonetheless, the story held me captive as if it were a thriller; and against all logic, I hoped for a happy ending, which failed to materialize.
Shmuel David, born in Israel in 1946, holds a master's degree in natural sciences from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His main occupation is as an expert computer software developer, providing services to major companies in Israel and abroad. Writing has always been second nature to him, and over the years he has written many stories.
His first published work was The Immediate Suspect in 2010, a collection of short stories from different periods of his life. His second book, the historical novel Two Princes and a Queen, was first published in Hebrew in 2015. Well-researched and documented, the story is based on the true, heart-rending memoirs of his father's horrendous voyage from war-torn Yugoslavia to pre-State Israel.
In an attempt to escape the Nazi advance through Europe, a tentative escape route was arranged for hundreds of refugees on three river-boats on the Danube. The botched voyage took a year and four months, at the end of which only a handful - including the youngster who was Shmuel's father - made it to Israel. The rest, including the youngster's beloved, perished. This untold story continued to haunt his father to his dying day, and he urged his son to make it known.
Shmuel David resides and writes in Tel Aviv. He is married and the father of three.