Thief Of Glory: A Novel

Paperback | August 19, 2014

bySigmund Brouwer

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“Brouwer makes you live it....sharing each moment of an exotic and terrifying time and place in a gripping, personal way.”
—Bodie and Brock Thoene, authors of Take this Cup
 
A boy coming of age in a time of war…
the love that inspires him to survive.
 
For ten year-old Jeremiah Prins, the life of privilege as the son of a school headmaster in the Dutch East Indies comes crashing to a halt in 1942 after the Japanese Imperialist invasion of the Southeast Pacific. Jeremiah takes on the responsibility of caring for his younger siblings when his father and older stepbrothers are separated from the rest of the family, and he is surprised by what life in the camp reveals about a woman he barely knows—his frail, troubled mother.

Amidst starvation, brutality, sacrifice and generosity, Jeremiah draws on all of his courage and cunning to fill in the gap for his mother. Life in the camps is made more tolerable as Jeremiah’s boyhood infatuation with his close friend Laura deepens into a friendship from which they both draw strength.

When the darkest sides of humanity threaten to overwhelm Jeremiah and Laura, they reach for God’s light and grace, shining through his people. Time and war will test their fortitude and the only thing that will bring them safely to the other side is the most enduring bond of all.

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From the Publisher

“Brouwer makes you live it....sharing each moment of an exotic and terrifying time and place in a gripping, personal way.”—Bodie and Brock Thoene, authors of Take this Cup A boy coming of age in a time of war…the love that inspires him to survive. For ten year-old Jeremiah Prins, the life of privilege as the son of a school headmaster ...

SIGMUND BROUWER is the best-selling author of nearly thirty novels, with close to 4 million books in print. Based on his inspiration for Thief of Glory, which Sigmund wrote as a way to learn and honor his parent's stories, especially of his father's boyhood in a Japanese concentration camp, Sigmund leads The Chapters of Our Lives memoi...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 8.3 × 5.5 × 0.9 inPublished:August 19, 2014Publisher:The Crown Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307446492

ISBN - 13:9780307446497

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Customer Reviews of Thief Of Glory: A Novel

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Remarkable story of a family's interment in a concentration camp told by young boy Of the books I've read from Sigmund Brouwer's pen, Thief of Glory is my favorite. In his signature storytelling style, this work of historical fiction is reminiscent of a memoir, shared like a series of journal entries written in the first person from the perspective of a 10-year-old boy; it is a completely fictional account of one family's nightmarish experience of interment in a Japanese concentration camp during World War II. Yet the details are hauntingly real. Jeremiah lived with his parents and siblings on the island of Java. His father was the schoolmaster of the Dutch colonists. His income allowed them to live prosperously in their little village, with servants from the community. Jeremiah's blended family had two sets of siblings. There were three older half-brothers and his birth siblings--twin sisters and a little brother. Jeremiah was the eldest of his birth family. His lovely mother suffered from a mental illness where she frequently went into a dark phase of isolation. Often she was emotionally inaccessible. Jeremiah and his father were used to taking care of his family during these times. He took special care of his younger brother, Pietje (sounds like PJ). The little guy followed him around like a puppy. The tragic portion of the story began when the Japanese arrived on the island. They removed the older boys and men, taking them to labor camps, some to work on the infamous Burma railroad. Jeremiah's father and brothers never returned. Before he left, he gave charge of his young family to Jeremiah's care. At this point, we are aware that the boy is a scrapper, a tough young man, and smart. He believes he is up for the challenge. It wasn't long after the men were taken when the Japanese came for the women and children. They were placed in "Jappencamps", where each family lived in a single room of a house. The bulk of this amazing story occurs in this place of captivity. One element meaningful to me was the author's use of a few powerful metaphors. The banyan tree represents moments in time that leave an indelible impression for life. It also is used to represent the consequences of moments which pervades our lives to the end. The second metaphor was the impression left by reading Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe a number of times on Jeremiah. Jeremiah saw himself as Ivanhoe and Laura Jansen as Lady Rowena from the moment he laid eyes on her at the village's marble game. Consequently, when another boy named Georgie Smith vied for her attention, Jeremiah was ready to fight for her, even in the Jappencamp. The second thing that struck me as an amazing factor in this story were the details of life in the camp. While these details are secondary to the plot, they lend an atmosphere of authenticity to the events that took place. In the preface, it's mentioned that these details came from the author's parents, especially his father who spent years in a similar situation as Jeremiah. Yet he survived and returned home to his loved ones, and in particular the author's mother. I think it's the stark realism of this tale which plucked at my heartstrings so much. Toward the end, I even forgot the story was supposed to be fiction. The thing that surprised me most about this book was that reading this from a pre-teen's viewpoint meant that, like Tom sawyer and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, there were the inevitable light moments and chuckles. Even in the midst of the horrendous circumstances he was in with his family, Jeremiah's antics and escapades were often funny, in a dark sort of "stick-to-you" type of way. Call it comic relief. I don't want to sound insensitive to the victims of such horrors, but the author managed to include many enjoyable instances as a sort of foil to the seriousness of the situation. All of this meant I could hardly put the book down because of the suspense. It was all about surviving the war with his sanity and sense of self intact. Like me, you may be surprised how the book ends. I didn't see it coming at all. If you enjoy a fresh perspective of a historical fiction and/or love what Sigmund Brouwer writes, I can heartily recommend this book to you. For the rest of you, try something new; I think this book is worth it. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Waterbrook Press and the website, Blogging for Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Date published: 2014-11-19

Extra Content

Read from the Book

Chapter One Journal 1—Dutch East Indies   A banyan tree begins when its seeds germinate in the crevices of a host tree. It sends to the ground tendrils that become prop roots with enough room for children to crawl beneath, prop roots that grow into thick, woody trunks and make it look like the tree is standing above the ground. The roots, given time, look no different than the tree it has begun to strangle. Eventually, when the original support tree dies and rots, the banyan develops a hollow central core.   In a kampong—village—on the island of Java, in the then-called Dutch East Indies, stood such a banyan tree almost two hundred years old. On foggy evenings, even adults avoided passing by its ghostly silhouette, but on the morning of my tenth birthday, sunlight filtered through a sticky haze after a monsoon, giving everything a glow of tranquil beauty. There, a marble game beneath the branches was an event as seemingly inconsequential as a banyan seed taking root in the bark of an unsuspecting tree, but the tendrils of the consequences became a journey that has taken me some three score and ten years to complete.   It was market day, and as a special privilege to me, Mother had left my younger brother and twin sisters in the care of our servants. In the early morning, before the tropical heat could slow our progress, she and I journeyed on back of the white horse she was so proud of, past the manicured grounds of our handsome home and along the tributary where my siblings and I often played. Farther down, the small river emptied into the busy port of Semarang. While it was not a school day, my father—the headmaster—and my older half brothers were supervising the maintenance of the building where all the blond-haired children experienced the exclusive Dutch education system.   As we passed, Indonesian peasants bowed and smiled at us. Ahead, shimmers of heat rose from the uneven cobblestones that formed the village square. Vibrant hues of Javanese batik fabrics, with their localized patterns of flowers and animals and folklore as familiar to me as my marbles, peeked from market stalls. I breathed in the smell of cinnamon and cardamom and curry powders mixed with the scents of fried foods and ripe mangoes and lychees.   I was a tiny king that morning, continuously shaking off my mother’s attempts to grasp my hand. She had already purchased spices from the old man at one of the Chinese stalls. He had risen beyond his status as a singkeh, an impoverished immigrant laborer from the southern provinces of China, this elevation signaled by his right thumbnail, which was at least two inches long and fit in a curving, encasing sheath with elaborate painted decorations. He kept it prominently displayed with his hands resting in his lap, a clear message that he held a privileged position and did not need to work with his hands. I’d long stopped being fascinated by this and was impatient to be moving, just as I’d long stopped being fascinated by his plump wife in a colorful long dress as she flicked the beads on her abacus to calculate prices with infallible accuracy.   I pulled away to help an older Dutch woman who was bartering with an Indonesian baker. She had not noticed that bank notes had fallen from her purse. I retrieved them for her but was in no mood for effusive thanks, partly because I thought it ridiculous to thank me for not stealing, but mainly because I knew what the other boys my age were doing at that moment. I needed to be on my way. With a quick “Dag, mevrouw”—Good day, madam—I bolted toward the banyan, giving no heed to my mother’s command to return.   For there, with potential loot placed in a wide chalked circle, were fresh victims. I might not have been allowed to keep the marbles I won from my younger siblings, but these Dutch boys were fair game. I slowed to an amble of pretended casualness as I neared, whistling and looking properly sharp in white shorts and a white linen shirt that had been hand pressed by Indonesian servants. I put on a show of indifference that I’d perfected and that served me well my whole life. Then I stopped when I saw her, all my apparent apathy instantly vanquished.   Laura.   As an old man, I can attest to the power of love at first sight. I can attest that the memory of a moment can endure—and haunt—for a lifetime. There are so many other moments slipping away from me, but this one remains.   Laura.   What is rarely, if ever, mentioned by poets is that hatred can have the same power, for that was the same moment that I first saw him. The impact of that memory has never waned either. This, too, remains as layers of my life slip away like peeling skin.   Georgie.   I had no foreshadowing, of course, that the last few steps toward the shade beneath those glossy leaves would eventually send me into the holding cell of a Washington, DC police station where, at age eighty-one, I faced the lawyer— also my daughter and only child—who refused to secure my release until I promised to tell her the events of my journey there.   All these years later, across from her in that holding cell, I knew my daughter demanded this because she craved to make sense of a lifetime in the cold shade of my hollowness, for the span of decades since that marble game had withered me, the tendrils of my vanities and deceptions and self-deceptions long grown into strangling prop roots. Even so, as I agreed to my daughter’s terms, I maintained my emotional distance and made no mention that I intended to have this story delivered to her after my death. Such, too, is the power of shame.   Chapter Two   Laura.   Beneath the banyan, a heart-stopping longing overwhelmed me at the glimpse of her face and shy smile. It was romantic love in the purest sense, uncluttered by any notion of physical desire, for I was ten, much too young to know how lust complicates the matters of the human race.   The sensation was utterly new to me. But it was not without context. At night, by oil lamps screened to keep moths from the flame, I had three times read Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, the Dutch translation by Gerard Keller. As soon as the last page was finished, I would turn to page one of chapter one. I had just started it for the fourth time. Thus I’d been immersed in chivalry at its finest, and here, finally, was proof that the love I’d read about in the story also existed in real life.   I was lost, first, in her eyes—unlike many of the Dutch, a hazel brown— which regarded me with a calmness that pulled stronger than gravity. She looked away, then back again. I felt like I could only breathe from the top of my lungs in shallow gasps. Her hair, thick and blond and curled, rested upon her shoulders. She wore a light-blue dress, tied at the waist with a wide bow, with a yellow butterfly brooch on her right shoulder. She stole away from me any sense of sound except for a universal harmony that I hadn’t known existed. So as the nine-year-old Laura Jansen bequeathed upon me a radiant gaze, I became Ivanhoe, and she the beautiful Lady Rowena. Standing at the edge of the chalked circle, I was instantly and irrevocably determined that nothing would stop me from becoming champion of the day, earning the right to bestow upon her the honor of Queen of the Tournament.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Thief of Glory“Emotionally riveting and exquisitely raw, Thief of Glory is an unforgettable tale about survival, not just of the body, but of the heart and soul, with an ending that will echo in your mind long after you’ve closed the book. Brouwer is a master storyteller.” —Susan Meissner, author of A Fall of Marigolds   “In Thief of Glory Sigmund Brouwer plunges readers into the mysterious embrace of the Dutch East Indies during the convulsions of the Second World War. Few authors have such an ability to immerse an audience in the sights, sounds, smells…and horrors! Brouwer makes you live it…sharing each moment of an exotic and terrifying time and place in a gripping, personal way.” —Bodie and Brock Thoene, authors of Take This Cup   “Sigmund Brouwer’s Thief of Glory is a powerful story, richly told. Young Jeremiah Prins is a complex and fascinating hero, blessed with great gifts and challenged by choices to use them for good or evil. The details of life in a Japanese civilian prison camp are revealed in unflinching but compassionate realism, and the characters depict the human capacity for both great selfishness and great heroism. This is truly one of the best books I’ve read this year.” —Sarah Sundin, award-winning author of On Distant Shores and In Perfect Time   “I’ve been a fan of Sigmound Brower’s books for ages, but Thief of Glory cocooned me in rich words, vivid descriptions, and true-to-life characters, making this book hard to put down. A fan of World War II, I’ve read countless tales, but World War II in the Dutch Indies was new to me, fresh and heartwrenching at the same time. A true glimpse of light amongst darkness, made even more special due to the inspiration of Sigmund’s parents’ story. Thief of Glory is going on my keeper shelf!” —Tricia Goyer, USA Today best-selling author of over forty books, including Chasing Mona Lisa