Mallory Hastings has been a “difficult” patient from the moment she opened her eyes in a hospital in Oneonta, New York, following a minor automobile mishap. Terrified, hostile, and unaccountably mute (so that she must be retrained to use her own voice), she recognizes neither friends nor family and seems bent on rejecting every effort to help her back to her former condition of normalcy.
Then a mysterious message reaches her from afar:
First: You’re not Mallory Hastings at all.
Second: You don’t know how you got where you are.
Third: You’re afraid to speak the truth to the people around you.
Though she’s never heard of the man who sent it, she grabs this lifeline and allows herself to be pulled out of the hospital into a world that is as unfamiliar to her as the woman who claims to be her mother.
The man on the other end of the lifeline is Jason Tull, a man whose story is almost as strange as hers. The scion of a wealthy and powerful family, he could have had any kind of life he wanted. But when he left school, there was only one thing on his mind. Of all things, he had conceived a fascination for the phenomenon known as reincarnation.
After spending a decade investigating the many alleged instances of the phenomenon that occur annually worldwide, Jason has zeroed in on his true objective: to find and develop a “Golden Case”-a case that even hardened skeptics will be unable to dismiss. And he believes “Mallory Hastings” is that Golden Case.
The secret he must have from her is, of course, her true identity. If she’s not Mallory Hastings, then who is she?
But pulling this secret from her proves to be like pulling the pin from a hand grenade. The explosion that follows opens a crack in the smooth surface of his world that no one will ever be able to paper over.
. . . Imagine that Nazi Germany was the first to develop an atomic bomb and the Allies surrendered. America was never bombed, occupied, or even invaded, but was nonetheless forced to recognize Nazi world dominance.
The Nazis continued to press their campaign to rid the planet of “mongrel races” until eventually the world – from Capetown to Tokyo – was populated by only white faces. Two thousand years in the future people don’t remember, or much care, about this distant past. The reality is that to be human is to be Caucasian, and what came before was literally ancient history having nothing to do with those then living.
Now imagine that reincarnation is real, that souls migrate over time from one living creature to another, and that a soul that once animated an American black woman living at the time of World War II now animates an Aryan in Quinn’s new world, and that due to a traumatic accident memories of this earlier incarnation assert themselves.
Compared by readers and critics alike to 1984 and Brave New World, After Dachau is a new dystopian classic with much to say about our own time, and the dynamics of human history.
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